• 2018 findings noted that 71% of respondents identified a supportive organisational culture as the top factor encouraging career progression for women in the UAE, followed by a positive tone from the top and a supportive family
  • Business case for increased women‘s participation in the Gulf workforce will be presented in the upcoming Women in the Economy: The Gulf Outlook report, which will be released in December

Sharjah: The Pearl Initiative, the only business-led non-profit organisation promoting a corporate culture of transparency and accountability across the Gulf Region, and NAMA Women Advancement Establishment (NAMA) jointly held a roundtable recently in Sharjah to share experiences and best practices on how to advance gender diversity and increase the participation of women in the UAE economy.

The focus of the discussion was to underline the strong business case for increased diversity in the workplace, which was initially highlighted in a report titled ‘Women in the Economy: The UAE Outlook’, published by the Pearl Initiative and NAMA in 2018. Business leaders, gender equality advocates, consultants, and diversity training professionals and experts from across the breadth of the economy led discussions on why businesses must facilitate women’s participation in the economy and create more opportunities for them to succeed in the workplace.

The discussions are part of the Pearl Initiative and NAMA’s ongoing research efforts, being undertaken within the Pearl Initiative’s Diversity in Business Leadership programme. This research includes an online survey and on-the-ground focus groups that will be used to publish a report of the same name in December 2019.

Rana Nawas, Creator and Host of When Women Win, gave the opening keynote address on why businesses must go above and beyond to support women in their workforces. Rana strongly emphasised the positive outcomes of companies that implement diversity and inclusion initiatives and advised companies to support women and give them a chance to lead and grow in the workplace.

The social and structural challenges that limit women’s participation in economic activities, as well as suggestions to overcome them, was at the core of the event’s discussions. A panel discussion moderated by Dima Alashram (Senior Advisor on Sustainability and Social Investment, Sustainable Square), featuring Hind Alowais (Vice President of International Participants - International Organizations and Non Official Participants, Expo 2020), Lucy Chow (Senator, World Business Angels Investment Forum, UAE and Director, Women’s Angel Business Network), and Nesreen Osman (Partner, Pinsent Masons) included conversations on the changing roles of women in the workforce over the past five years, biases at the workplace, best practices being implemented by companies to support women, and what businesses can do better to promote diversity and inclusion.

HE Reem BinKaram, Director of NAMA Women Advancement Establishment, said: “The extensive data and research and growing transparency has made the case for gender equity very clear. Significant progress has been made in many areas in the Gulf Region, and there is scope for more. The modern workplace is teeming with opportunity for women, and businesses must be equal partners in driving forward this excellent momentum in our region, to create work environments that allow women to truly excel. There is an increasing need for our efforts to be guided by data-driven real-time analysis of the region.”

She added: “The Pearl Initiative and NAMA report offers a strong business case for women’s inclusion in the workplace. It clearly shows organisations that embrace diversity and inclusion will outperform companies that don’t in the coming decades. Progress is not only fuelled by emerging technologies but human expertise. In order for society to reach its highest potential in building a sustainable future, we need to tap into human talent, represented by both men and women.”

Commenting on the event, Yasmine Omari, Executive Director of the Pearl Initiative, said:
"Leaders need gender diversity to perform. However, today there are still very few top women leaders across the Gulf Region, and companies, institutions, and organisations lose out on the value that diverse management brings. Data consistently demonstrates that diversity in the workplace is a tremendous asset for both businesses and employees. Businesses themselves have the power to create change and contribute to a more open, diverse and inclusive society.”

She added: “Diversity has the capacity to foster innovation, creativity and empathy in ways that homogeneous environments seldom do. Through our activities, the Pearl Initiative is dedicated to identifying concrete and actionable steps to advance gender diversity along the career journey – from education to the executive team – with the objective to strengthen performance and promote greater diversity across the Private Sector.”

Founded in 2010, the Pearl Initiative develops programmes and publishes regional research reports and case studies, with aims to influence the regional business and student communities towards implementing higher standards of corporate governance within the Gulf Region.


About the Pearl Initiative

Prominent business leaders from across the Gulf Region formed the Pearl Initiative in 2010 to create a non-profit vehicle for the Private Sector to collectively take the lead in adopting higher standards in corporate governance, accountability and transparency to enhance business innovation, opportunity and value creation.

With over 40 regional and international partners, the Pearl Initiative brings together business, government and civil society decision-makers to share best business practices and to help maximise the economic opportunities available to companies within the region. The Pearl Initiative also supports Gulf-based university students to identify and embrace strong ethics as they embark on their future careers.

 The Pearl Initiative seeks joint collaborative action between regional and global business leaders, international institutions, government bodies and wider initiatives within the Gulf Region, exhibiting positive leadership and sharing knowledge and experience in order to influence the entire regional business and student community. For more information, please visit www.pearlinitiative.org or contact us on +971 6 515 4605 or via email at enquiries@pearlinitiative.org

Follow us also on @PearlInitiative on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter and @ThePearlInitiative on LinkedIn.

About NAMA Women Advancement Establishment

Established by His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, the NAMA Women Advancement Establishment is chaired by his wife, Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi. NAMA’s core philosophy is to raise awareness that women are an indispensable human resource for the development of every nation. NAMA was conceived to go beyond the remit of supporting women and ensuring gender equality to a broader scope that aims to see women become influential key members of society, thereby enabling them to climb the ladder of success.

It encourages policies and legislation to support women and actively pursues programmes that support gender integration into all sectors. Three entities, namely Sharjah Business Women Council (SBWC), Irthi Contemporary Crafts Council and Badiri Education and Development Academy, fall under the umbrella of NAMA Women Advancement Establishment.

© Press Release 2019

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