The ABCK – AmCham Kuwait’s Women in Business Focus Group in partnership with the U.S. Embassy of Kuwait hosted its first diversity & inclusion Diwaniya of the year, sponsored and hosted by Crowne Plaza Al-Thuraya City. The event started with opening remarks by ABCK-AmCham Kuwait’s Vice Chairman- Dr. Arezou Harraf, who welcomed participants and gave a warm welcome to the U.S. Embassy’s Counselor for Public Affairs, Christy Watkins.

Dr. Harraf started the discussion by talking about the importance of workplace culture on diversity & inclusion, capacity building and mentorship, and the provision of professional mentorship and skill-building. Dr. Harraf also spoke about the opportunities that empower women in Kuwait and how they can be utilized to fulfill their economic potential. 

After the opening remarks, Watkins stated that the first priority for the department of State was to lunch a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) to coordinate the efforts to conduct the analysis of the barriers. In September 2022 the state Department of Diversity and Inclusion released a five-year strategic plan. Specifically, the plan includes: using data and an evidence-based approach to determine barriers members of the workforce face to equitable career outcomes, making the advancement of DEIA a part of the criteria for job performance, career advancement, and senior performance pay,  targeting underrepresented groups in recruitment efforts, conducting a first of its kind DEIA climate survey across the department, enhancing the reasonable accommodations for individuals with disabilities, and making the culture more disability- inclusive; being more transparent about the legal obligation for religious accommodations; and creating a retention unit to look at the roots causes of attrition. Last year the department announced a new “Collin Powell Leadership Program” to help further the department’s effort to bring people with diverse backgrounds and States via paid fellowships and internships, both of which could lead to full-time employment.

The department announced in April 2022, it was overhauling the hiring process for foreign services officers, which included making the almost 100 years-old writing and language skills test play less of a role.

Moving forward, participants discussed the importance of changing company culture to harbor women in leadership positions; many companies are now starting to see a return on investment when they invite women to the table. Inclusion and diversity bring out innovation which in return allows entities to survive and thrive in a such competitive market. Together, they discussed the different resources available within the group of participants and how these resources can be utilized to advance women’s economic growth in the country.

Finally, participants agreed to use such an initiative to address Kuwait’s specific needs, spread awareness, and design events for capacity building and networking to foster mutual success. The three takeaway points that were agreed upon were: the word “inclusion” does not mean the same to all, and this is why small steps matter as change is not done overnight. Entities need to ensure that they have a goal for their inclusion practices so that it provides guidance to the entity on which aspects of inclusion they would like to focus on. To have a more inclusive culture, change needs to come from the top leadership. If the top leadership does not support and champion an inclusive culture, in the long term, initiatives will not be sustainable, and lastly, it is important for companies to measure how inclusion and initiatives that harbor it are providing a return on investment, how these affect retention rate and other measurable aspects.

ABCK-AmCham Kuwait: Is a non-profit organization operating since 1985 and is composed of Fortune 500 corporations, small and medium-sized companies, and prominent business leaders and entrepreneurs, both American and Kuwaiti. ABCK-AmCham Kuwait has acted as an advocate for American interests in the state of Kuwait. For More Information, please visit our website at or follow us on the social media channel @abck1985