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Women on boards in the GCC: Not a priority to business leaders
New Deloitte and 30% Club GCC study shares what GCC business executives really think
May 31, 2016 – With businesses in the GCC facing pressing challenges, including oil prices, the issue of gender balance at board level is not a priority in the present climate. This and other revelations are among the findings of a study released today entitled View from the top: What business executives really think about women leaders in the GCC. The report is the culmination of an in depth interviews study conducted in collaboration between Deloitte and 30% Club GCC. A diverse sample of c-suite business leaders across the GCC countries, both male and female, nationals and expatriates, from the public and private sectors, participated in the study.
“It was important for us to have been inclusive in the study from which findings were then extracted,” said Rana Ghandour Salhab, partner, member of the board of Deloitte in the Middle East. “We are pleased to see that business leaders believe women participation in leadership positions is critical to the wellbeing of companies and organizations in the region, yet the more in depth findings around quotas, board priorities and cultural challenges beg further dialogue that should lead to action.”
In addition to looking at the topic of women’s representation on boards in the GCC, the report presents findings from participants on issues such as whether implementing a quota system to achieve gender balance would be effective, what kinds of barriers or bias exist to prevent women from achieving executive positions, and whether a cultural shift is taking place in the region that is changing the dynamics of women’s progression to senior roles.
“The report is a useful tool to highlight many of the talking points that are relevant to the mission and work of the 30% Club GCC,” said Raeda Al Sarayreh, Director of Strategy and Corporate Affairs, CH2M MENAI. “The consensus is that there is plenty of female talent out there, but that we need to help this talent rise up to the challenge and grasp the opportunities. At the same time businesses need to be aware of the issues that are preventing women in their rise to the top and be strategic in how they can tackle these issues.”
Although individual examples of best practice among companies in terms of achieving gender balance were generally thought to be lacking in the region, study participants were able to identify more easily specific countries that were setting an example and making progress in terms of women’s advancement. Of these the UAE emerged as the most noted for the commitment of its leadership to women’s advancement, and its government was perceived by respondents to be working hard on this issue.
Participating leaders in the study were also asked to look to the future to gauge anticipated progress toward greater gender balance at leadership level. With the majority predicting only a small increase in women’s board membership in the coming years, the report ends with questions around which further dialogue can be initiated to ensure targeted and effective action is taken.
To access the full report, visit http://www.deloitte.com/viewfromthetop or http://30percentclub.org/assets/uploads/Deloitte_and_30__Club_Study_-_View_from_the_top_(2).pdf
About 30% Club GCC
The 30% Club GCC is a group of like-minded professionals and business leaders seeking to promote women’s leadership at organisations across the region.
We seek to boost the number of women in executive positions across the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries to build better, stronger businesses that reflect our society. Our members range from CEO’s of large corporations to leaders of public/educational organisations and leading professional services firms, all committed to achieving better gender balance at all levels of organisations, because we believe it will make businesses and boards more effective.
The 30% Club GCC is the regional chapter of the global 30% Club launched in London in 2010 with a goal of having 30% women on FTSE 100 boards by the end of 2015. Currently, women account for 33% on FTSE 100 boards, up from 12.6%.
Member firms across the GCC are fast joining the initiative and taking voluntary steps towards the goal of increasing the number of women on boards and in executive positions. These member firms cover many sectors and include Lazard, Amwal, CH2M, Dentons, Etihad Airways, Heidrick & Struggles, Lazard, Deloitte ME, and numerous others.
Deloitte refers to one or more of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, a UK private company limited by guarantee (“DTTL”), its network of member firms, and their related entities. DTTL and each of its member firms are legally separate and independent entities. DTTL (also referred to as “Deloitte Global”) does not provide services to clients. Please see www.deloitte.com/about for a more detailed description of DTTL and its member firms.
Deloitte provides audit, consulting, financial advisory, risk management, tax and related services to public and private clients spanning multiple industries. With a globally connected network of member firms in more than 150 countries and territories, Deloitte brings world-class capabilities and high-quality service to clients, delivering the insights they need to address their most complex business challenges. Deloitte’s more than 220,000 professionals are committed to making an impact that matters.
About Deloitte & Touche (M.E.):
Deloitte & Touche (M.E.) is a member firm of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (DTTL) and is a leading professional services firm established in the Middle East region with uninterrupted presence since 1926.
Deloitte provides audit, tax, consulting, and financial advisory services through 26 offices in 15 countries with more than 3,300 partners, directors and staff. It is a Tier 1 Tax advisor in the GCC region since 2010 (according to the International Tax Review World Tax Rankings). It has also received numerous awards in the last few years which include best employer in the Middle East, best consulting firm, the Middle East Training & Development Excellence Award by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), as well as the best CSR integrated organization.