GCC sees more inclusion of women in workforce

04 September 2023 Consultancy-me.com 2 min. read
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Women have been increasingly integrated into the workforce in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, with Qatar leading the integration drive.

The GCC countries – Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) – have seen a significant increase in female inclusion in the workplace in recent years. That is according to a report from global consulting firm Bain & Company that analyzed regional data and surveyed over 1,100 professionals.

“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,” said Karen Khalaf, Partner at Bain & Company.

GCC sees more inclusion of women in workforce

Qatar and the UAE saw the most integration of women in the workforce with 60% and 52% female inclusion, respectfully. That is well above the global average of around 47%.

In the early months of 2023, Saudi Arabia reported a remarkably swift rate of transformation, with female participation soaring to 37%.

If these numbers are accurate, this would mean Saudi Arabia met the integration goal set in their ambitious Vision 2030 initiative seven years earlier than expected.

“The government push for gender equity has been a massive trigger of 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,” said Khalaf.

At the higher levels, the picture is a bit different, however. Only 7% of board members were female as compared with the global average of 20%. Despite the strides shown in the report, the GCC still has one of the largest gender gaps in the world.

As far as underlying causes for this gender gap, 70% of respondents point towards gender bias and stereotypes as the main reasons for their difficulty in entering the workplace. Respondents also noted general inequality as reason why women are often excluded from decision-making processes.

The gender gap is certainly not a new issue in the GCC countries, with several of these countries having been criticized internationally for the lack of women’s rights. A previous study found that 80% of female business leaders in the UAE struggled to break through the ‘glass ceiling’ in their organizations.