Employers in GCC nations prefer women employees

DUBAI — Employers in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, including the UAE, prefer women employees for various positions, as they cost 10 per cent less than their male counterparts with a similar profile and perform the same function, according to a new survey.

By A Staff Reporter

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Published: Sat 9 Sep 2006, 10:03 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 8:20 PM

The survey, conducted by Gulf Talents.com, a Dubai-based online recruiting agency said: “The employers have started recruiting female candidates even for some jobs which were preserved for men a few years ago. The trend in selecting experienced employees also changed last year. Instead of recruiting experienced employees who can contribute to the organisation from day one, employers showed interest in hiring less experienced graduates and investing in their training and development.”

Responding to the survey findings, B. R. Shetty, CEO and Managing Director of the UAE Exchange, said: “I have always preferred to select female candidates since they are as good as male candidates. Women do not waste time and always concentrate on their jobs. I personally feel female candidates are more committed than their male counterparts and they work harder.” M. A. Yousufali, Managing Director, Emke group, said: “We used to hire female candidates and male candidates in equal proportion. Normally, the female candidates seem to be more hard working. They always concentrate on the work and do not waste time.”

The survey also revealed that private sector salaries in the six countries of the GCC increased at an average rate of 7.9 per cent over the last year. Qatar topped in the list with 11.1 per cent salary increase, followed by UAE with 10.3 per cent. Sectors enjoying the highest pay rise in the survey were construction and banking — consistent with last year’s results, and reflecting the sectors’ strong growth. Healthcare and education registered the lowest increases.

The study highlighted continued economic growth and growing competition for talent as key drivers of pay rises, along with spiralling living costs in parts of the region, particularly Qatar and the UAE. While there was continued inflow of expatriates into the Gulf, particularly Dubai, the report said some expatriate residents were leaving the region as high inflation had eroded their saving potential. Other drivers of pay increase highlighted in GulfTalent.com’s report were the robust economic growth in India, traditionally the main supplier of expatriate workforce to Gulf countries, and the weak US dollar affecting recruitment from Europe. Gulf currencies are pegged to the US dollar.

Legislation, including the governments’ workforce indigenisation policies, were further tightening the labour market, the report said, while geopolitical developments — including the recent conflict in Lebanon — hindered the attraction of talent from some countries. The study also highlighted a number of structural changes in employment and pay practices. Commenting on these trends, a GulfTalent.com analyst who led the study said: “The compensation landscape is fast changing. Variable pay is becoming much more common, particularly at the senior level, with pay increasingly being linked to performance.”

According to the report, more companies are instituting formal pay structures and annual salary review processes, and many are also introducing long-term saving plans in an effort to improve retention. Even stock options are now being considered by some employers. The study suggested that the Gulf’s tightening labour market was forcing employers to reach out to new sources of talent — including countries further afield such as China and Malaysia, fresh graduates, and women, traditionally an under-represented segment of the Middle East workforce.

The report also pointed to a narrowing of nationality-based pay differentials, a common feature of compensation practices in the Gulf. With salaries fast rising in India, Gulf-based employers in some sectors had to offer above-average pay rises to retain Indian professionals, reducing the pay gap with their Arab and Western counterparts in the region.

GulfTalent.com’s study was based on a survey of 3,000 professionals in the Middle East, as well as interviews with regional business leaders and human resource professionals.

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