A report released on Sunday revealed that the rate of women’s involvement in businesses in the GCC has increased by 2.2 percent during the past two decades.
It stressed the importance of engaging women in national workforces, especially at the level of senior leadership, and in an unbiased organizational culture.
According to the latest report by NAMA Women Advancement Establishment and The Pearl Initiative, the percentage of women in the Gulf labor force has jumped between 1998 and 2018.
It decreased in Bahrain from 21 to 20 percent and from 15 to 13 percent in the Sultanate of Oman. In Kuwait, however, it increased from 27 to 32 percent and from 13 to 17 percent in Saudi Arabia, raising the average from 17.6 to 19.4 percent.
Titled “Women in the Economy: The Gulf Region Outlook,” the report pointed out that there is still a long way to go for Gulf Region economies to support women and, in turn, facilitate true human resource development for economic success.
A figure demonstrating the percentages of respondents' outlook on gender in management showed that 54 percent of the women spoken to said “over the next five years, men will continue to hold top management positions in the sector they currently work in.”
The report indicated that men are more optimistic than women about the scope of initiatives taken by sectors and institutions to empower women, which confirms that there is a clear gap in perceptions regarding diverse initiatives.
“Obtaining any lasting benefit from diversity requires more than just the presence or recruitment of a diverse workforce, but also effective leadership that can manage conflict, create cultures of inclusiveness characterized by psychological safety and growth mindsets, and make organizational change where needed to support a diverse workforce,” it noted.
The report demonstrates that women are driven by ambition to further their careers.
It highlighted significant reasons why they feel unsupported in their respective workplaces.
Factors such as unconscious biases, unequal treatment, and a lack of work/life balance create discontent and reduce the productivity and inputs of women in the workforce.
This, in turn, leads to reduced economic benefits for organizations that are unable to harness the talents and contributions of women.
Commenting on the report, Economist Dr. Abdul Rahman Baeshen, president of the Al-Shorouq Center for Economic Studies, said that women’s status in the GCC in general and in Saudi Arabia in particular is growing.
The Kingdom’s Vision 2030’s National Transformation Program aims at increasing women’s involvement in the labor market by 21-24 percent.
It also aims to increase their economic participation rate 25 percent by 2020.
In his comments to Asharq Al-Awsat, Baeshen stressed the necessity to develop and train Saudi women in all fields, in line with Vision 2030.
He pointed to the importance of launching initiatives that enhance women’s economic efficiency and empower them with the tools to increase production and be part of the promising sectors with added value.