PwC Saudi Arabia committed to developing local and female talent

07 February 2018

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”.

ACCA hosts UAE women in finance forum with Deloitte advocates

18 March 2019

Senior finance leaders from across the UAE have assembled for a meeting hosted by the ACCA on developing a collective vision to increase the ratio of women in finance and technology, with Deloitte’s newly elected global chair Sharon Thorne delivering a keynote address.

In an effort to address the ongoing gender gap in the finance and technology sector, the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) – one of the world’s largest professional accounting bodies with more than 200,000 members worldwide – has brought together more than 50 senior finance leaders from across the UAE to promote a shared vision in pushing for greater inclusion.

Among others, those assembled heard keynotes from Anthony Hobeika, the CEO of local research and consulting firm MENA Research Partners, as well as Deloitte Middle East Consulting CEO Tim Parr, and Deloitte’s long-time diversity advocate and newly elected global chair Sharon Thorne, who when she takes over in June will become the first woman in the firm’s history to hold the position.

Also present was noted Deloitte diversity champion, Rana Ghandour Salhab, and Cynthia Corby, Deloitte Middle East Audit Director of Operations and Chair of the UAE Women in Finance Forum, who was last year named by Forbes as one of the 100 most influential women in the Middle East. “In the UAE and wider Middle East, we have seen a higher percentage of women going through the education cycle, however when we look at this transition into the workplace, we don’t see a reflective rate,” Corby said.ACCA hosts women in finance forum in UAE with leading Deloitte advocatesAccording to an ACCA report released prior to the event, women account for only 17 percent of all executive finance roles in the UAE, and hold just 2 percent of board-level positions across the GCC. Corby continues; “Business leaders need to ensure this talent is not lost, in order to truly lead diverse organisations which go beyond the numbers. Promotion of sustainable practices that encourages people of all cultures and ages to participate in all opportunities which are provided to those who demonstrate the ambition, drive, ability and dedication are paramount, so they can share their different perspectives and challenge our thinking and we can all thrive in our professional lives.”

As highlighted by the ACCA, the Women in Finance Forum coincides with the 100th anniversary of Ethel Ayres Purdie’s election as an associate to the London Association of Accountants, a founding organisation of ACCA – the first woman to be admitted to the membership of a professional accounting body. For the ACCA’s part, nearly half of the organisation’s members are now women, along with 55 percent of its senior staff and an even share of its executive.

“ACCA was established specifically to open up the profession to people of all backgrounds, based solely on their ability, said Helen Brand, ACCA’s chief executive. “We believe that it’s every organisation’s responsibility to support diversity and to review and revise the way they support and open up opportunities to women – and indeed all other under-represented groups. Opportunity and diversity are two of our core values that continue to guide our work today.”

In terms of developing a shared vision to tackle gender imbalance in the financial services industry, Corby believes now is perfect time to act. “With the changing role of finance and increased emphasis on technology, it presents an opportune time to drive a collective vision, which with the use of algorithms, blockchain and innovative tech can support in reducing biased decision making in the recruitment and progression processes within organisations.”

Related: Deloitte's Rana Ghandour Salhab named champion of diversity on global list.