The number of women on UAE-listed company boards has more than doubled from 3.5 percent to 8.9 percent in just two years, with 59.1 percent now having at least one female board member, a new report has revealed. 

A quota of a minimum of one woman as board member by 2025 set by the country’s stock market regulator, the Securities and Commodities Authority (SCA), is starting to take effect, the report said. 

The UAE has 115 companies listed on stock markets in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, and women now hold 77 of the 868 board seats in the companies, up from 29 board seats in 2020. 

Companies must comply with the minimum women board member mandate by 2025, the report by Aurora50 explained. 

“Over two years, the market has seen a growth in the number of board seats held by women, now 59.1 percent of listed companies having at least one woman board member and 8.9 percent of all board members of listed companies being women,” said Maryam Buti Alsuwaidi, SCA CEO. 

“The regulatory requirement of having at least one woman board member on each listed company’s board that SCA mandated a year ago has clearly had the desired positive impact, as it has in other countries that have set similar mandates. Norway and France, the world leaders in having women on corporate boards, both had set 40 percent quotas and have been successful in surpassing that target in the past two decades,” she added. 

She noted that gender diversity on boards positively impacts a company’s future success and profits by creating diversity of thought, adding that such inclusive leadership also encourages more women to join, thrive and succeed in listed companies. 

ADNOC’s women board members 

ADNOC, which operates its own gender balance committee, has women board members on 16 of its 18 group companies, as well as three female CEOs. 

The report is a collaboration between Aurora50, founded in 2019 to accelerate gender equality in the boardroom, and the Mohammed bin Rashid School of Government (MBRSG). It is the first report of its kind in the GCC. 

It cited data from 2021 BoardEx Global Gender Balance Report, which showed that France has the highest average percentage of women board members at 44 percent and Brazil and Russia the lowest of those surveyed at 12 percent. 

The UK has 36 percent, the US 29 percent and Singapore and India 17 percent. 

Deloitte data also showed that women held 1.7 percent of Saudi Arabian board seats, 1.2 percent in Qatar. The percentage of women board chairs in India was 3.6 percent, the data showed. 

(Reporting by Imogen Lillywhite; editing by Cleofe Maceda)