Arab Female Executives: Building the Talent Pipeline

Arab Female Executives: Building the Talent Pipeline

February 24, 2014 at 08:02am

Women make up 26% of the executive workforce in Turkey, 23% in Morocco, 17% in the UAE, 16% in Egypt, and 7% in Qatar, according to a 2012 study by consulting firm Mercer. By contrast, the share in Russia was 40% and in most European countries, the range was between 20% and 30%.

Arab women’s presence on regional boards was also lower than in other geographies, with a 2011 study finding that half the corporate boards in Egypt and Turkey had no female board members, while there were no Moroccan boards with a female board member.

GE is hoping to help increase our understanding about these low representation rates by collaborating with the not-for-profit Pearl Initiative to fund a GCC-wide research program on women in senior management. The project seeks to understand how the Middle East can strengthen the pipeline of female talent for executive- and board-level roles. GE also has signed up as a partner company of the Pearl Initiative.

The Pearl Initiative’s GCC-wide research program is interviewing women in senior management positions across the GCC. It will use the feedback to develop practical programs designed to attract, retain and develop women into senior positions. This, in turn, will create a larger pipeline of women ready for board positions.

Working to enlarge the pipeline of women in senior positions is important – not only because a Credit Suisse study found that companies with female board members delivered stronger share performance, but also because, as the Pearl Initiative notes, equal employment opportunities for men and women is a key aspect of corporate best practice.

GE has a strong pool of professional women in senior management roles in the region, including Dalya Al Muthanna, President & CEO Gulf for GE, who recently spoke at a diversity conference on this topic. These female managers mentor younger women and engage with their peers across GE’s Women’s Network. The partnership with the Pearl Initiative will help expand the pipeline of talented professional women in engineering and administrative roles for GE and other organizations in the Middle East.

The Pearl Initiative, set up in collaboration with the United Nations Office for Partnerships, is the leading independent not-for-profit institution working across the GCC to influence and improve corporate accountability and transparency.

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