UAE: Nearly 50% of HR leaders in the country are women, says new report

Mercer study finds women to be leading human resource functions in the UAE with 53% in managerial roles and 49% in executive positions.


A Staff Reporter

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KT file
KT file

Published: Tue 8 Mar 2022, 1:49 PM

Nearly half of human resource (HR) executives in the UAE are women, according to new data from global consulting firm Mercer, supporting the Gulf country’s more gender balanced approach in the workforce.

In anticipation of International Women’s Day, Mercer ran an analyses on their data from the Total Renumeration Survey (TRS) and found that 49 per cent of HR executives are women, while 53 per cent work in managerial positions. The survey featured responses from almost 600 companies across multiple sectors with over 300 of those reporting on gender data.

“Putting women in high-ranking HR functions could be crucial to continue the UAE’s gender balance push in the workforce. Addressing issues in labour representation will entail redesigning hiring strategies, but more importantly ensuring an inclusive work culture with more policies influenced by diverse talent management,” said Sebastian Fuchs, career and workforce consulting business leader at Mercer Mena.

“As the country progresses its economic diversification agenda towards a knowledge-based economy, it is critical that a broad range of industries advance their commitments to fair, skills-based hiring practices to create a representative, inclusive workforce,” said Fuchs.

There is strong evidence as to why HR is one of the critical teams within a firm, as they take part in foundational business functions, including staffing and recruitment, but more importantly in influencing company culture.

Women in leadership roles were also highly present in the legal profession, the TRS survey showed, with around 26 per cent in managerial positions and 45 per cent in executive ones.

UAE Gender Balance Council

The survey comes on the back of increasing government support to put women in leadership roles, both in the public and the private sector. In 2015, the UAE set up its Gender Balance Council to implement and inspire reforms in bridging the gender gap.

Many legislations have been implemented since then, including around equalizing pay, lifting legal restrictions against women in certain jobs, and doubling down on workplace discrimination.

Despite this positive development, the TRS found that there are still a few industries where female representation in leadership roles is lacking. These include engineering and science, data analytics and warehousing, and finance – all traditionally dominated by men globally.

“With our TRS suggesting that hiring activities will rise in 2022, companies in the UAE have the opportunity to showcase support for UAE’s commitment to a gender balanced workforce through providing increased opportunities to qualified female candidates. To encourage increased female workforce participation, particularly at an executive level, organisations must examine compensation to ensure that employees are fairly remunerated for their positions regardless of gender,” said Tarek Lotfy, IMETA CEO at Mercer.


According to the Mercer survey, women still face some pressure in competing against men for high-ranking roles, including the opportunity cost of pursuing senior roles, and implicit biases that pervade, particularly around confidence and perceptions of women’s ability to lead. When looking specifically at the lack of representation at an executive level, it may be due to financial remuneration, whereby women’s total compensation at the executive level currently remains at 13 per cent less than that of male executives.

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