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Isabel Neiva

UAE women ready to take on corporate leadership roles

DUBAI, March 12, 2023

Eighty percent of women in the UAE workforce who responded to a survey said that the opportunity to progress to top leadership positions is key for them, while 73% felt they have opportunities to lead at their workplace.

This is according to a survey conducted by leading management consulting firm, Kearney. Sixty-one per cent of women in UAE’s workforce think more women in leadership roles will positively impact their organization, while 39% saw the future top leader of their current organization to be a woman.

The study conducted ahead of International Women’s Day 2023 explored the sentiment around women in leadership positions, the path to progress and the challenges faced.

The UAE is ranked as a leading country in gender equality in the region ,  with women making up 66% of public sector workers and 30% in leadership roles . The last decade has seen multiple policies that support inclusivity and diversity come into play, aimed at facilitating women’s role in the workforce. While there have been positive strides towards a more equitable work environment at a national level, the survey reveals that leaders in the private sector still have work to do to pave the way for female talent.

81% of the women surveyed claim that it’s difficult for them to get the support they need to take on leadership roles. When asked about the challenges faced in the workplace, a quarter (25%) of women stated their goals are too ambitious, 21% felt the organizational culture at their current workplace does not encourage them to lead, and 18% stated they face discrimination by their coworkers.

“The UAE has a strong commitment to empowering women at work for the development of the local economy, as part of We the UAE 2031 Vision, as well as the realization the UN SDG Goal 5 of achieving gender equality,” commented Isabel Neiva, Partner at Kearney Middle East & Africa.

“The policies and host of national initiatives that promote an inclusive and balanced work landscape have been key to driving increased female participation in the workforce and at leadership positions. To support ambitious women aiming to climb the career ladder, business leaders in the private sector have a major responsibility to provide women with the relevant support and training to progress in their careers and open up opportunities for them to take a seat at the leadership table.”


When questioned on how their organization supports their career development, only 26% claimed that they receive regular training and development and 22% said they are offered opportunities for regular career reviews and/or promotions.

Having a leadership team that is genuinely committed to diversity and inclusion was flagged as a key priority for 81% of respondents (both men and women), emphasizing the important role that current business leaders play in accelerating the achievement of a more diverse and equitable workplace. 61% reveal their current organization has diversity, equity, and inclusion targets, including having more women at the board level, however, only 16% of those claim that these have been publicly announced. 27% believe the organization does not have such targets, and 12% were unsure.

“Diversity, equity, and inclusion are proven pillars of success and provide the basis for future growth of organisations. To accelerate the pace of change, a forward-thinking approach must be instilled from the top of the hierarchy, from the senior leadership team, trickling downward into management teams and the workforce,” said Chiara Riffaldi, Partner at Kearney Middle East and Africa.

“Setting diversity targets and publicly stating them is an important step towards enforcing accountability in organisations, to ensure that the leadership team works towards hiring and nurturing female talent, and to provide them with the tools and opportunities needed to progress.” – TradeArabia News Service




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