Eighteen major companies operating in the UAE have pledged to ensure women are in 30 per cent of leadership roles by 2025.
The initiative aims to boost the number of women in managerial positions from the current rate of about 16 per cent within three years.
It will also hasten efforts to achieve UN Sustainable Development Goal 5 – on gender equality and the empowerment all women and girls.
A pledge was overseen by the UAE Gender Balance Council, the UAE’s National Committee on Sustainable Development Goals and the UAE’s Private Sector Advisory Council.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated the need to work together to come up with innovative solutions to some complex challenges facing our world,” said Mona Al Marri, vice president of the UAE Gender Balance Council.
“It has also demonstrated the extent to which women are affected by crises, noting that there are real gender gaps in leadership positions across the world, with women occupying only 22 per cent of CEO-level leadership positions.
“We need to escalate efforts to increase the number of women in senior and middle management roles, as more women in leadership means stronger organisational performance and thriving economies.”
The commitment to equality in the workplace included efforts to ensure equal pay and fair compensation, promote gender-equitable recruitment and promotion, ensure gender balance through policies and programmes and be transparent about progress with fellow signatories and government.
Globally, 22 per cent of top senior executive level positions are held by women, while in women make up 25 per cent of international leadership roles.
Blue chip companies committed to increasing the number of women in high-ranking boardroom positions include Majid Al Futtaim, Masdar, the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre, Dubai Holding, Unilever, Standard Chartered Bank, Mastercard, Michelin, UPS, General Motors, Schneider Electric, PepsiCo, Mondelez International, BASF, Mars, Nestle and General Mills.
Since the UAE Gender Balance Council was established in 2015, several measures have been taken to improve equality in job opportunity and female representation in key government positions.
In 2019, a directive was issued to increase female representation in the Federal National Council to 50 per cent.
The move placed the UAE among leading countries in terms of female parliamentary representation.
Since 2020, government figures show 77 per cent of Emirati women now enrol in further education. Furthermore, women make up 70 per cent of all university graduates in the UAE.
The country is now ranked first regionally for female empowerment on the UN Gender Equality Index, and 18th globally, while a dedicated Women’s Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai is committed to addressing gender issues.
“Eliminating obstacles to gender equality is essential to achieving economic prosperity, social stability and sustainable growth,” said Sheikha Manal bint Mohammed, president of the Dubai Women Establishment.
“We are confident that the private sector will keep pace with the achievements made in government in this field, and this initiative constitutes an inspiring model for all private institutions in the country.”