Prepared in collaboration with the Sharjah Business Women’s Council (SBWC), the report is titled, ‘Women’s Careers in the GCC - Four Good Practice Case Studies’ - and focuses on various aspects of diversity in workplaces.
This has been done through surveys of four of the region’s leading companies - General Electric (GE), Olayan Group, Pepsico and Petroleum Development Oman (PDO) - each a leader in their domain. According to the report, Omani women occupy 30 per cent of PDO’s senior management roles. Participating companies shared best practices that ensure inclusion and diversity in workplaces while discussing the strategies they devised to acquire and retain top female talent, thereby achieving stronger governance.
The results suggest that an integrated approach involving schools and universities, aggressive awareness drives at multiple levels, implementing supportive infrastructure and work environment, family engagement as well as women-specific policies and programmes are the most effective ways to address the challenges of female employment.
Developing more role models from the region, creating women-centric opportunities, investing in segregated offices and other useful services at the workplace, and organising transportation to and from work are a few of the strategies companies can adopt to create an enabling work environment. In the recent years, Oman has recorded increasing female enrolment in higher education - a promising sign towards further inclusion in workplaces.
According to the Oman Education Council’s Higher Education Report, 45,029 female students were enrolled in private colleges and universities, compared to 23,723 males during the 2014-15 academic year. Raoul Restucci, managing director, PDO said, “PDO fully supports this excellent endeavour and congratulates all involved for their invaluable contribution to this cause and raising of awareness, challenges and opportunities across the region. “Oman is already seen as a pioneer in female empowerment in the Middle East and this is very much underpinned by the unwavering support and wise leadership of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said.
“During his first speech when he ascended to power in 1970, His Majesty the Sultan stressed his ‘interest in the importance of the role of women in society, and in supporting the economy.’ Since then, women have increasingly and impressively contributed to the country politically, economically and socially.
“PDO is determined to do all we can to advance the cause of women in the workplace both within our own boundaries and beyond as a pre-requisite and fundamental enabler for delivering and sustaining high performance, greater equity, respect and collaboration.”