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No one-size-fits-all approach to gender diversity

No one-size-fits-all approach to gender diversity
According to industry reports, organisations where women hold nearly 30% of leadership positions could add up to 6% to their net margins.
by

Rohma Sadaqat

Published: Mon 28 Oct 2019, 6:38 PM

Last updated: Mon 28 Oct 2019, 8:48 PM

Companies which believe that there is a one-size-fits-all approach that they can adopt when it comes to gender diversity and inclusiveness will find themselves running into just as many problems as they are trying to solve, experts at the 2019 Women in Leadership Economic Forum (WIL 2019) said.
The 10th Anniversary Edition of the forum by Naseba opened on Monday under the theme, 'Daring to Build a Better Future', and brought together a number of leading regional and international organisations such as Siemens, Facebook, Allergan, FedEx, Philip Morris, PWC, General Motors, and Emaar Hospitality to share their success stories on gender parity and inclusion.
Norma Taki, Middle East Diversity & Inclusion Leader at PwC, noted that there are "several pillars" that organisations need to look at when it comes to creating a strategy for gender diversity. These include raising awareness and education, accountability and measurement, and mentorship and sponsorship.
"It is not a one-size-fits-all and it is definitely not a two or three step programme that can easily be implemented and solve everything," she said. "It is a combination of several initiatives, focus groups, and training sessions that are ultimately going to help the change. However, what is critical in any movement is the culture change that organisations have to go through. It starts with understanding the needs of the workforce and then changing to meet those needs. For example, flexibility means different things for different people. A mother might want to leave early so that she can go home and spend some time with her children; someone else might want to leave early so that they can go and de-stress at the gym."
"We truly believe that gender equality should be at the heart of every organisation and one of its core values," said Amit Yadav, head of Marketing at 2XL Furniture & Home Décor. "Inclusiveness should not be something that organisations believe in, but also something that they should actively practice. This is especially true in a country such as the UAE, which is home to people from different backgrounds. Technology and a wise leadership, that has ensured that there are several initiatives being launched to help women in the workforce, have all contributed to making the UAE a force when it comes to female empowerment and gender equality."
According to industry reports, organisations where women hold nearly 30 per cent of leadership positions could add up to six per cent to their net margins. The UAE has already taken several steps to ensure that it is on track to achieve its goal of being among the world's top 25 countries for gender equality by 2021, and has already closed 64 per cent of its overall gender gap.
Hani Ashkar, PwC Middle East senior partner, said: "Diversity is integral to business sustainability and overall success. Boosting the number of women in work is not just a moral imperative, but also has a measurable impact on the bottom line."
Working women today are living the "best of their times"
Working women across the world today are living the "best of their times" when it comes to opportunities that have opened up to them in traditionally male-dominated industries, however, there is still a lot that has to be done, especially when it comes to their inclusion at the senior management level, said Linda Rama, economist and wife of the prime minister of Albania.
Speaking to Khaleej Times at the 2019 Women in Leadership Economic Forum, Rama noted that there are a wealth of stories regarding women empowerment that have popped up in recent years. Most of these revolve around efforts to ensure that girls have access to higher education and opportunities to work in sectors that were once considered to be a male domain.
"In many parts of the world today, we have seen females outnumber their male counterparts in universities. We have also seen women successfully go on to have careers in fields such as engineering. However, what we have not seen is this success translate into more women at the board level. Today, it is a known fact that having more women at the senior management level is an economic advantage for companies, yet the change to include more women has been slow," she said.
Rama also said that having more women at the senior level, only encourages more women to enter the workforce. "One of the most powerful and inspirational things that a women can see at a company is another women at the top. This encourages her to do her best and companies, in turn, should ensure that they have policies in place that can help her achieve her best."
- rohma@khaleejtimes.com



Linda Rama, economist and wife of the prime minister of Albania.
Linda Rama, economist and wife of the prime minister of Albania.

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