Bain & Company's latest report on Gender Equity in the Middle East Workforce reveals the state of women in the GCC workforce.
Global management consulting firm, Bain & Company revealed findings from its latest report - "Advancing Gender Equity in the Middle East Workforce," according to which, the MENA region has seen unprecedented change in terms of women representation. Although Qatar and UAE continue to lead the region in women's workforce participation followed by Saudi Arabia's fastest pace of change, there is still a long way to go to attain gender equity, especially at the leadership level.
Approximately, 7% of board seats are held by women in the GCC versus 20% globally. Despite making significant strides in women's empowerment, the region continues to face one of the largest gender gaps. As of 2022, the region had closed 64% of its gender gap vs. 80%+ for a selection of its global peers (e.g., Iceland, Finland, Namibia, Nicaragua). The report, which is a product of a survey of 1,150 professional men and women and diagnostics of 25 of the largest GCC organizations and focus groups indicates that gender bias and stereotypes still exist, cascading into additional barriers in organizations.
Bain & Company has developed a holistic approach to support organizations in beginning or further pushing their gender equity journey. By taking a closer look at the underlying causes, the research highlights that 70% of women mention gender bias and stereotypes as the primary challenge, along with inadequate hiring processes, lack of mentorship, training, and support for work-life balance. These challenges hinder women’s corporate leadership advancement in the region, and similar challenges are faced globally.
Teams that are gender and geographically diverse make better business decisions 87% of the time and 70% of top-performing teams in the GCC have a higher percentage of women.
In image above: Anne-Laure Malauzat and Karen Khalaf, Partner, and Women@Bain lead at Bain & Company Middle East
Anne-Laure Malauzat, Partner and Chief DEI officer at Bain & Company Middle East said, “Women have been changing the face of the workforce in the GCC, with a growing number of organizations reaching the tipping point of 30% representation. The government's push for gender equity has been a massive trigger of this change and more organizations have seen the clear benefits of gender diversity and added it to their agenda in the last 5 years as a result. What is inspiring is that several of these organizations are homegrown and pioneering gender equity practices and policies at a global level in a way that is uniquely reflective of the region’s cultural and societal context.”
Bain & Company has developed an approach rooted in research and experience that helps organizations gain an understanding of their starting point and decide on the best path forward, in terms of practices. This approach encompasses five key pillars:
Three models along different maturity stages of the gender equity journey:
Bain’s analysis showed that 50% of GCC organizations fall into Tier 1, while 40% are Tier 2, and less than 10% demonstrate Tier 3 attributes.
Adding to Malauzat's wisdom, Karen Khalaf, Partner, and Women@Bain lead at Bain & Company Middle East said, “Women can add significant value to the workplace, but there are still too few women reaching board and corporate leadership positions in the region. There are so many levers organizations can pull to begin or further their gender equity journey, If all organizations play their part – and learn from each other – we can further build on the momentum of the region and close the gender gap.”