Women in Middle East unhappy with poor pay and promotion promises

A recent study from the International Labour Organization showed that women in the Middle East earn between 20 and 40 per cent less than men.
The bayt.com survey noted that 56 per cent of women if the Middle East are pessimistic about their promotion prospects. Andrew Henderson / The National
The bayt.com survey noted that 56 per cent of women if the Middle East are pessimistic about their promotion prospects. Andrew Henderson / The National

Women in the Middle East said they were not happy with their jobs, with pay and promotion causing frustration for many, according to a new survey from bayt.com, the employment website.

Just under half of women surveyed were unhappy with their current levels of pay.

“There’s the actual inequity,” said Radhika Punshi, a consulting director at Talent Enterprise, the human resources consultancy, “And there’s the feeling of inequity that [women] don’t get the same benefits.”

A recent study from the International Labour Organization showed that women in the Middle East earn between 20 and 40 per cent less than men.

This is mainly the result of compensation schemes that reduce women’s take-home pay if their husband is also a recipient of allowances, Ms Punshi said.

And 56 per cent of women are pessimistic about their promotion prospects.

A dearth of women in senior roles bears out the survey’s findings. “When you look at the director level and the senior level, female representation drops to 6 per cent to 8 per cent in managerial jobs, and 4 per cent to 6 per cent in leadership roles,” Ms Punshi said.

This is the result of a lack of informal networking opportunities for women, an absence of sponsorship of women by senior employees and a natural exodus of women in their 30s and 40s who drop out of the workforce to start families, Ms Punshi said.

Organisational attitudes to flexible working arrangements also need to change, Ms Punshi said. “Companies may have [flexible working arrangements] but there are stereotypes about women who use them, and they find themselves unable to progress by putting in extra hours. It’s not just the policies – it’s the mindsets around the policies that matter.”

Laws on childcare facilities also need to be enforced. “A lot of labour laws in the Middle East mandate that employers have to provide childcare facilities on site if the company employs more than 50 females, but only 5 to 10 per cent of employers do this,” said Ms Punshi.

“No longer is [the inclusion of women] the right thing to do, it really is the smart thing to do,” Ms Punshi said.

abouyamourn@thenational.ae

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Published: May 26, 2014 04:00 AM

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