UAE women rising in positions of power and influence

UAE women rising in positions of power and influence
Women bring a lot to the table as leaders; there are many reasons that they are well-equipped to help bring the UAE into the future.

Dubai - More women than men in this region intend to start a business

By Oksana Tashakova

Published: Sun 8 May 2016, 6:11 PM

Last updated: Sun 8 May 2016, 9:47 PM

Why is entrepreneurship so important? Female entrepreneurship creates jobs, provides a training environment for aspiring women leaders, and female business owners become role models and network contacts for other women. The World Bank estimates that over the next decade, 75 per cent of the jobs in the Mena region will be created by women. Fatima Al Jaber, for instance, is the largest private sector employer in the UAE with 50,000 workers.
But there's more to be done.
Wamda reports that "on average, more women than men in this region intend to start a business, by the largest margin worldwide. For every woman running a business, over six women intend to start a company, but for every male entrepreneur, nly two and a half people intend to do so." Unfortunately, few of these intentions materialise as businesses: Mena women have the lowest rates of actual entrepreneurial activity at four per cent.
As McKinsey and Company, in their research of women leaders, explains that while women have advanced into senior leadership positions in the GCC states over the past 10 years, 90 per cent of these women are not only the first women to win these roles - they are still the only women "at the top".
Women bring a lot to the table as leaders; there are many reasons that they are well-equipped to help bring the UAE into the future.
Several studies have found that global companies with female board members outperform those without in terms of return on sales, share price and stock performance, especially when markets are falling. They've also found that women's participation increases organisational effectiveness, management, problem-solving, strategising and team dynamics.
It isn't the status quo needed in these times of rapid change. Women are the "third billion" of the world after the first and second of China and India. In a vision outside of the business-as-usual way of the world, McKinsey and Company estimate that if women's participation in the workforce equaled that of men, the world's annual GDP would expand by 26 per cent or $28 trillion by 2025.
A.T. Kearney has found that GCC women are ambitious and invested in their careers but must battle prejudices that gauge them as lacking in competitiveness, risk-taking and networking skills.
Women are much more likely to engage in transformational leadership, the kind of leadership needed to help the UAE undergo its transformation to a thriving innovation economy. They score higher than men on measures of organisational effectiveness such as communication, inspiration and people development. They also score slightly higher on measures of intellectual stimulation, participatory decision-making, and role modeling. These are leadership qualities recognised as being most relevant for the future.
Men, on the other hand, score higher in terms of control and corrective action, individualistic decision-making, and the use of expectations and rewards. These actions are more illustrative of transactional leadership: a style that is based on appealing to a person's self-interests over the greater good.
Financial and personal gain are not the most important motivators for women in the UAE. Abu Dhabi University professor Dr Jabeen explains that women in the UAE work for self-development, self-accomplishment and from the desire to help others and their country to progress and succeed.
There is a crucial tipping point at hand for UAE's future and the status of women. Perseverance is required to break the glass ceilings and walls that cage such potent contributors to positive change. Entrepreneurial education, new networks, and marketing know-how can help dismantle the stereotypical practices that hold women back and greatly increase the number of women at the table and the advances they can make for the country's transformation.

The writer is business startup strategist and founder of Wealth Dynamics Unlimited. Views expressed are her own and do not reflect the newspaper's policy.

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