Women in Mena workforce could increase GDP by $2t

62 per cent of women agree that their employer provides a satisfactory work-life balance and training and development opportunities



Wam file photo
Wam file photo
by

Sandhya D'Mello

Published: Wed 8 Jun 2022, 10:42 PM

Last updated: Wed 8 Jun 2022, 10:45 PM

Women in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) workforce are expected to increase their contribution to the region’s gross domestic product (GDP) by 57 per cent, or $2 trillion provided they will get level playing opportunities, says a latest report by PwC Middle East.

In its latest study — Mena women in work survey 2022: Young women, powerful ambitions, PwC Middle East said women across the region are striving forward to bolster the economy by contributing to its growth and development if a conducive environment is offered to them.

Around 94 per cent of the surveyed women favoured work-life balance and training and development opportunities as their most valued employer characteristic. However, only 62 per cent of women agree that their employer provides a satisfactory work-life balance and training and development opportunities. The economic prize from getting this right could be significant.

“Identifying, developing, promoting and retaining women is essential for the success of our business and our region more broadly. Key takeaways from our most recent research include encouraging employers to create a strategy that includes investing in skills, reforming cultures, embedding equitable workplace policies, respecting personal time and wellbeing as well as developing metrics to actively track the progress in supporting female employees,” Hani Ashkar, PwC Middle East senior partner, said.

The report further states that while 84 per cent of women aspire to become leaders in their fields, female employees illustrated that work is not their only priority, with 80 per cent agreeing that it is important to play a leading role in looking after their families.

Unleash women’s potential

The survey highlights the career aspirations of young women and the challenges they face in achieving their ambitions across the Middle East and North Africa region and the key measures needed by Mena employers to unleash women’s potential in workplaces.

The study was launched in conjunction with the Middle East Action for Diversity Council, a council of CEOs from multinationals in the region with a clear aim of leading by example as well as rallying like-minded organisations to advance diversity and inclusion within the workplace by working together and committing to change.

“We welcome all initiatives in the Mena region that aim in advancing women’s careers, which requires a multi-party approach in order for any progress to be sustainable. Governments should continue to support women on a policy-level, and companies should take a more proactive approach in creating workplace environments conducive to women’s success,” said Norma Taki, inclusion and diversity leader at PwC Middle East.

UAE is at the forefront

Endorsing a similar view, Dalia Kamel, regional communications manager, Middle East, Turkey & Africa and Spain at Intel Corporation, said a recent diversity, equity, and inclusion survey conducted in the UAE by Intel indicates that a little under half of the respondents felt their business focuses most on gender equality, and a massive 87 per cent said their organisation has set long-term goals to achieve a diverse and inclusive working environment. “Such findings show a commendable awareness among employees and companies in the workplace on these important issues,” she said.

Dalia Kamel, regional communications manager, Middle East, Turkey & Africa and Spain at Intel Corporation.
Dalia Kamel, regional communications manager, Middle East, Turkey & Africa and Spain at Intel Corporation.

Embedding diversity strategies for the entire career lifecycle, setting diversity KPIs to ensure fair assessments for women, and reinforcing supportive workplace cultures are critical steps for Mena employers to effectively attract, recruit and retain talented young women.

Neelam Verma, vice-president and head of investments, The Continental Group.
Neelam Verma, vice-president and head of investments, The Continental Group.

Neelam Verma, vice-president and head of investments, The Continental Group, said the UAE has always been at the forefront to bolster women empowerment in the region and this is evident as the nation has also witnessed policy-level actions towards safeguarding women’s rights in professional settings which include equal pay for equal work and extended maternity leaves, among other noteworthy stipulations in the newly amended labour laws.

“Kudos to the UAE leadership for breaking age-old biases by giving key government roles to women and recognising and harnessing their potential towards developing an equal society . The private sector too has followed suit, giving women the opportunity to grow in any industry of their choosing. As a result, the UAE corporate culture holds women in high esteem today,” she said. — sandhya@khaleejtimes.com


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