Arab world among top gender diversity improvers, survey shows

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Time: 27 May 2021

Rania Nashar, Samba Financial Group CEO, was Saudi Arabia’s first female chief executive. (File/AFP)

71 percent of MENA companies made progress on gender diversity
MENA ranked last in female representation on boards

TEXAS: Organizations in the Middle East and North Africa are among those to have made the most progress in gender distribution over the past five years, according to a survey by CEO community YPF.
In the MENA region, 71 percent of companies have made progress in this area, second only to Latin America at 73 percent, and ahead of South Asia at 68 percent, YPF said in its first Global Chief Executive Gender Equality Survey of 2,079 CEOs from 106 countries.
YPF’s sample included 23 percent female CEOs, which compares with a global figure of 5 percent, it said.
The report showed that gender inequality increases with seniority. While 39 percent of employees at respondent companies were female, 30 percent of senior management were women and 20 percent of board directors.
However, there has been considerable progress on the measure in the past five years with 24 percent reporting a “somewhat more diverse” board of directors in that time frame and 16 percent “significantly more diverse.” Among senior managers, the respective numbers are 34 percent and 18 percent.

Companies in the Middle East and North Africa have the least gender diverse boards, the survey showed. However, while just 16 percent of directors were women in the MENA region, the figure was not much better in Europe (21 percent) and the US (20 percent).
“There are a lot of things to be done to encourage the empowerment of women,” Reem Osman, CEO of Saudi German Hospital Group, said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. “As the data shows, having more women in the C-suite is empowering more women, giving women more senior positions and recruiting more women.”
Companies globally with women on the board are more likely than their male-led counterparts (46 percent vs. 37 percent) to offer services that help women reach the top, such as female leadership and mentoring programs, the survey showed. Almost one third of female CEOs offered flexible work arrangements at their companies compared with 21 percent for male respondents.
The biggest obstacle for CEOs in the MENA region was a lack of mentors, with 51 percent citing that as the main challenge compared with 36 percent in the rest of the world.

This article was first published in Arab News

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