Maximising the potential of Arab Women

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					          Helping Arab Women to lead:
          Initial findings from the Muthabara
          Foundation 2007 Research Project

          Dr Serra Kirdar-Meliti, Director

Slide 1

          • Background
          • The Muthabara Foundation
          • Importance of helping Arab Women to lead
          • Research Findings
          • Recommendations
          • Questions and Comments

Slide 2

      • The context and status of women’s empowerment varies across the Arab
      • Need to preserve identity and community whilst taking rightful place in the
        global economy
      • Highly successful women from many regions can be seen as exemplars
      • Change is now coming from women themselves
      • Islam promotes equality of women – highly radical in its inception
      • Not ‘Western’ feminism but a local feminism negotiated by Arab women
      • Similar ‘glass ceiling’ for Western women. Managerial positions filled by
        women: Germany 25%, UK 33%. Senior positions: US 10%, Germany 5%                  1

      • Exemplars merge womanhood and professional success, Islam and modernity
      • Hence – the Muthabara Foundation

                      [1] Gardiner, M. & Tiggemann, M. Gender Differences in Leadership
                      Style, Job Stress and Mental Health in Male and Female Dominated
                      Industries, Journal of Occupational and Organizational Studies,
                      1999, Vol. 72, Issue 3, British Psychology Society, p.1
Slide 3
      The Muthabara Foundation:
      Making a difference

           • MISSION
             Maximise the potential of young Arab women
             to create intellectual capital, through improved
             education, mentoring/role models and

             publicising success.

Slide 4
      The Muthabara Foundation:
      Making a difference

             • OBJECTIVES -   initial focus on UAE as leading exemplar:

          GUIDE   ADVISE      DEVELOP                ENHANCE

Slide 5
      The Muthabara Foundation:
      Making a difference

          Guide and support Arab women to maximise their potential

           Advise educational establishments on how to best meet the
           requirements of employers

           Advise National and international organisations on
           effective recruitment and development of Arab women.

Slide 6
      The Muthabara Foundation:
      Making a difference

            Develop projects that produce educational, economic and
            social benefits above the benefit of the individual – systemic

            Develop relationships and alliances with public/ private sectors
            to enhance expansion of projects
            Enhancing, through research, government policy and
            programmes for women and nationalization in general.

Slide 7
      Helping Arab women to lead:
      Complexities of many related issues
                                                                       General human
                                 Issues relating specifically to       resource issues:
                                UAE women: Cultural norms and          * Developing global talent
                                 values, family pressure, women’ s     * Managing diversity
                                role in Arab society, ‘Islam, women    * Localising management
                                             and work’                 style
                                                                       * Global HR policies

                 Issues relating to                  Issues relating to
               women at work (male                    Nationalisation:
                 attitudes, child care,                Education levels,
              segregation vs integration            motivating the wealthy,
                          etc)                     moving from public sector

Slide 8
      Helping UAE Women to lead:
      Why does it matter?
      • UAE strategy (highly successful to date) requires
        – increasing diversification away from oil and gas,
        – increase in private sector employment for nationals (and reduction in public sector)
        – and increasing productivity of workforce through less reliance on cheap immigrant
           labour. More Nationals justifying higher wages.
      • UAE national population ~20% of total, ~10% of working population.
      • Therefore, in order to control the economy, a high proportion of nationals need to lead,
        especially in ‘core’ and strategic sectors such as tourism and IT.
      • UAE women are a key resource, currently under-utilised, especially in the private sector.
      • Every UAE National, male or female, with the potential to lead must be helped to realise
        that potential.
      • Currently ~7% of Emirati women are in leadership roles
      • This is comparable to Europe/US) – so what is the issue?

                        As quoted in Dubai Strategic Plan 3rd Feb 2007

Slide 9
      Profile of a hypothetical country’s
      management population
                          Middle mgmt
                             leaders                1%

                       Supervisory leaders               10%



Slide 10
    If UAE nationals form 20% (~1m) of the working
    population (~5m) with a ‘normal’ proportion of leaders
           Then 80% of strategic leaders
           would be expatriate/immigrants. Directors
           .. and 80% of                  Middle mgmt
           middle Managers                   leaders                 1%
           .. and 80% of
           Supervisors                  Supervisory leaders               10%

           Leaving c90% of UAE nationals in ‘non-leading’
           roles, mostly led by expatriate/immigrants                           88.9%


Slide 11
      If we want all strategic leaders to be nationals, half
      of all middle managers and half of supervisors, then

           Then all of strategic leaders
                                                                 5000 = 0.5% of UAE population
           (5000) would be Nationals            Directors
       .. and 50% (25,000)                    Middle mgmt
       of middle Managers                        leaders                25,000 = 2.5%
    .. and 50% (250,000)
    of Supervisors                         Supervisory leaders                     250,000 = 25%

           Leaving only 72% (720,000) of UAE Nationals in
           ‘non-leading’ roles, but mostly led by Nationals


Slide 12
      UAE women – a potential asset that
      cannot be ignored
      • We need 5% (~5000) of our population to achieve strategic leadership roles
      • We need 2.5% (~25,000 people) to achieve middle management leadership
      • We need 25% (~250,000 people) to achieve supervisory leadership roles.
      • ~ 40% of our Nationals are women ~400,000 people of whom only ~50,000
        are currently in the labour force.
      • An underutilised 350,000 people, of whom many would no doubt be capable
        of achieving leadership roles.
      • A resource that cannot be ignored.

Slide 13

      • Women in leadership roles are a critical component of true empowerment.
      • Highly educated and capable women will be an asset in any role, including
        family life.
      • Working women contribute to the economic and social success of the country.
      • Women can have a significant leadership role in economic and political
        spheres – representing a large proportion of the population.
      • The UAE’s strategy focuses on building a knowledge/service economy – which
        benefits from multiple perspectives including those of women.

Slide 14
      Helping UAE women to lead:
      First research project
      •    Objectives:
           – Identify the requirements of major employers in the UAE (local and foreign) in order to increase
              the employment of women into professional and managerial roles.
           – Identify any gaps between these requirements and the provision of education for UAE women in
              the UAE.
           – Identify any overlapping or related initiatives to ensure that the Foundation complements and
              facilitates any existing work in this area.
           – Provide a business case for the foundation including costs and potential benefits.
      •    Method
           – Literature and meta-review
           – Qualitative Research
           – PART 1 The Employers’ perspective
                    •   Interview range of facilitating organisations
                    •   Interview range of employers
                    •   Interview range of educational institutions
           – PART 2: The womens’ perspective (underway)
                    •   Interview Arab Women (Students)
                    •   Interview Arab Women (mature, employed in public and private sector)
                    •   Focus Groups to debate issues
                    •   Attend relevant workshops (Tawan and Middle East Centre Oxford)

Slide 15
      Support for employment for women
      (positive comments in blue, negative in red – from organisations)

                                                                                                           Public Sector still
                                                                                                           more attractive
       How will support                                                                 Some               than private
        change in the                                                                   professions
                                                                             Positive   still restricted
                                                                             Neutral                         Varies in the
                                                                             Negative   Early education      different Emirates
           Current support
                                                                                        needs to include
           for employment
              of women                                                                  world of work
                                                                                                Nationalisation quotas
                             0%   20%     40%     60%     80%   100%                             generate resistance
                                                                                               amongst Expats against
                                                                                                 employing Emiratis
   Government support has been very                     Women seen in important roles
   strong - and crucial, along with                     Government and commerce                        Women entering new
   cultural change and perceptions                                                                       professions e.g.
                                                  Many initiatives to help                               engineering, IT
   about women in employment                      Emiratis in general and
                                                   women in particular              Rapid increase in higher
                       Ratio of females to                                           education for women
                       males is increasing                        Nationalisation quotas
                                        Skills shortages will    have forced organisations
                                        force companies to        to employ and develop
                                          develop women                  Nationals
Slide 16
   What helps employers employ and develop
   Arab Women for leadership roles?
   (company perspectives)

                                    Family-oriented                                      Respectful of
                                    with good sense                                       hierarchy
                                      of work-life                                          (non-
         Respectful of                  balance                Education levels           assertive)
            hierarchy                                               14%
                      Top management                                               Family-oriented
                          support                                                  with good sense
                           32%                                                       of work-life
       Well educated
                     Good English                                                  (uncommitted)

                                                                           Factors about Arab
     More enthusiastic                                                     women themselves
      and committed

           Higher emotional
                                      Government initiatives
               Try harder and                29%
Slide 17
       What hinders you in employing and
       developing Arab women? (perceptions)
                   Family responsibilities                                       Education doesn’t prepare
                   can conflict with high-                    Lack of skills         for world of work
                       pressure roles                             4%
  Some professions                                                                       Prefer hierarchic
                                                                    Policy issues
 seen as unsuitable                                                                     management style
    (e.g. personal      Society and cultural
       services,               issues                                          Management style Not challenging
   hospitality, non-            28%                                               differences enough for modern
   Islamic banking)                                                                   13%      consensual mgmt
                      Relatives may                                                                  style
                   exercise control over
                      career choices                                                          Public sector pays
Women may find it
 difficult to work                                                              Government     high salaries for
  internationally                                                                  13%          little effort so
                                                                                              creates unrealistic
       Require specific working                                                                  expectations
     conditions (flexible hours, no
       mixing with single men)
                            Perceptions ofArab                                         May only want to
   Local men, and women,                                            Aspirations      work for a few years,
 sometimes find it difficult to women                                  17%           then focus on family
accept women as leaders. May 21%
 accept foreign woman more                Perhaps not assertive enough for
  easily! (as honorary man)                 demanding management role
      Specific initiatives to ‘get the best’’ from
      Arab women and fulfil their potential?

      • All the organisations stressed they are ‘gender neutral’
      • All had equal opportunities and diversity policies
      • Many had excellent programmes to recruit and develop Emirates Nationals – male and
      • Many had well-developed talent development initiatives
      • No specific development for women
      • Most specifically recruited Nationals, none specifically recruited females
      • Few had mentoring programmes - not focused on women
      • All see massive growth in the region with increasing demand for good Nationals
      • Some (international companies) had global ‘female-friendly’ offerings (creche, maternity
        leave, flexi-time etc). Few had specific facilities for women (e.g. segregated office)
      • Most global organisations stressed that HR policies and practices were standard across
        the business. Very little local tailoring
      • Only one had a specific initiative relating to National women – allowing a male relative
        to accompany a woman on overseas assignment.

Slide 19
      Areas of potential focus for Muthabara

      • Guidance for employing organisations: How to get the best from Arab women
        – Mentoring (e.g. Jumeirah, Barclays)
        – Working conditions – e.g. manage 1-1 meetings, prayer rooms, separate
          relaxation area?
        – Adapt management style to suit – Politeness, respect for authority, concern for
          family, work-life balance
        – Misunderstanding personal characteristics - Assertiveness, subservience,
          reserved, ‘shy’
        – Ambition and goals (tend to be family/society oriented rather than
          power/money) should be respected and seen as positive advantage
        – Global experience – Overseas travel could be eased by accompanying relative
          (e.g. HSBC)
        – Innovative working conditions (flexible hours, tele-working etc)
        – Involve family (e.g. Jumeirah, Etisalat)

Slide 20
      Potential focus (2)
      • Education – attitudes of women to work
        – Teach ‘world of work’ at school to help with attitudes of young women
        – Teach English as young as possible
        – Explore model of career then family break then return to work
        – Explore large company career, then own business and family
        – Vocational training in partnership with commerce (re German dual system)
        – Focus on ‘core’, strategic subjects
        – More global experience in conjunction with overseas institutions (e.g. Oxford
           University, Oxford Brookes)
        – More internships at earlier age with multi-nationals and national private sector
        – Do single sex colleges help or reduce integration?
      • Career guidance for women
        – Scientific career assessment for young women
        – Review of options including entrepreneurship

Slide 21
      Potential Focus (3)
      • Help families to appreciate the benefits of women working
        – Government and employers need to sell to families that work can be a source of honour
           in a safe and respectful place (e.g. Etisalat)
        – Praise and recognition for forward thinking families – give working women high status
        – Global experience – Overseas travel could be eased by accompanying relative (e.g.
        – Employers establish communication with families so that issues can be resolved before
           they become problems
      • Recommendations for Government/policy
        – More support for business start-ups. Set up/encourage VC and incubators
        – Tighter controls on immigrant labour (move away from cheapest labour towards capital
        – Reduce public sector (Libya giving 400,000 nationals 3 years pay or help to start own
        – Seed capital for start-up initiatives for women
        – UAE Strategy to define ‘core’ professions and drive strategic focus in education and

Slide 22
      How you can help

      •    Your comments/opinions ideas (can our researcher interview you?)
      •    Access to more UAE women for Phase 2 survey/interviews
      •    Collaborations, synergies, networking etc
      •    Sponsorship or contribution
      •    Email

Slide 23

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