PwC Saudi Arabia committed to developing local and female talent

07 February 2018 Authored by

The Saudi Arabian arm of global professional services firm PwC is continuing with its commitment to gender diversity and the development of local talent, supported by the firm’s strong regional growth and the social and economic transformation programmes underway in the Kingdom.

On the back of impressive regional growth, which at 8% last year saw revenues from the company’s Middle East operations outpace those globally, PwC Saudi Arabia has said it will continue to invest heavily in talent, looking to add to its current headcount in the country of almost 1,000 professionals (out of a total regional workforce of 4,200). And the firm is keen to broaden its human capital, with an on-going commitment to gender diversity and the recruitment of local talent.

The expressed recruitment focus is in step with the ambitions of the Saudi government, which, with a tightening on foreign work visas, is seeking to improve the representation of Saudi nationals in the private sector to better develop the country’s technical talent pool, and is further hoping to increase the level of female workforce participation from 22 to 30 per cent as part of a raft of sweeping social and economic changes under its Vision 2030 blueprint. 

The consulting firm has in just recent times added 70 new Saudi graduates to its employment roster, recruited from some of the top international and local universities with qualifications in accounting, banking and finance among other academic disciplines. The intake was part of a larger enlistment of 300 local graduates across PwC’s twelve Middle Eastern offices.

PwC Saudi Arabia committed to developing local and female talent

PwC Saudi Arabia Country Leader, Riyadh Al Najjar, said at the time, “Our firm’s growth strategy and recruitment approach is built on hiring talented graduates from around the world. Recruiting Saudi national graduates from diverse backgrounds confirms PwC’s presence and commitment to the Kingdom as an influential partner in the success of the Kingdom’s national programme.” 

Gender diversity 

In terms of gender diversity, over one third of the Saudi graduate recruits were women, adding to the 31% female make-up of the company’s existing regional profile. And the numbers may be set to increase, with women in the Kingdom being newly granted the right to drive as part of the country’s campaign to improve social conditions and stimulate female workforce participation as a means of economic growth.

Hala Kudwah, Partner and financial services leader at PwC Saudi Arabia, said, “Often you find a disconnect between job opportunities and access with women sometimes unable to compete for roles due to the challenges of getting to work and back. Greater mobility will balance market access between the genders.”

According to figures from the Ministry of Labour and Social Development, Saudi Arabia has already seen a 130 percent increase in the number of Saudi women employed in the private sector in the four years to 2017. Estimating that up to a further three million women may seek to enter the workforce as a result of changes, Kudwah adds; “Overnight, this has created a huge segment of mobile women which will certainly accelerate economic reform in Saudi Arabia and attract more business investment.”

Economic benefits

Such social transformations in the Kingdom are already having an impact, with Hani Ashkar, Senior Partner and head of PwC’s Middle East operations, in part citing the developments for the company’s recent local revenue gains despite the challenging economic conditions. “There was increased demand in particular for data analytics, digital, restructuring, privatisation, healthcare, and VAT consulting work,” he said, adding, “Positive influences including public sector transformation programmes in the UAE and Saudi Arabia in particular also contributed to the firm’s success in 2017”.