GE to bridge gender gap in region’s workforce with 50:50 representation of women in technical roles
GE (NYSE: GE) today announced its strategic goal of achieving 50:50 representation of women for all its technical entry-level programs in the region, especially in engineering, manufacturing, information technology and product management roles, to drive its transformation as a digital industrial company for the future.
The strategy reflects GE’s global initiative to have 20,000 women to fill STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) roles in the organization by 2020, and complements the ongoing initiatives of GE in the region to strengthen women participation in its workforce.
GE believes that the commercial and socio-economic imperative, coupled with the ongoing challenges of recruiting and retaining top female talent in STEM jobs, means business has a critical role to play in accelerating and intensifying efforts across the technology sector.
Nabil Habayeb, GE’s President & Chief Executive Officer for the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey, said: “Our focus has always been to create a truly inclusive culture, fostering a climate that enables women employment and leadership. Today, the intersection of our physical and digital worlds, coupled with the advancements in software and hardware, is creating new opportunities and careers for women. Our focus on 50:50 representation catalyzes our own transformation as a digital industrial company.”
GE has launched a white paper that highlights the economic opportunity of addressing gender imbalance across the sector. It identifies that women are still under-represented in the technology sector with 13-24% represented in IT and Engineering positions globally, and just 17-30% ascending to senior leadership positions. While women tend to outnumber men in higher education (55% to 45%), STEM education drops significantly.
GE Chief Economist Marco Annunziata said: “Unless we bring more women into technology and manufacturing, there will be a significant negative economic impact on the sector. This is a problem for business to actively address.”
GE has also announced the introduction of a Chief Technology Advisory Council to inform future retention strategies, including career advancement and leadership development opportunities. GE will also continue to benchmark, explore and implement employee programs and benefits that foster a fair and inclusive culture where all employees can thrive.
Bridging the gap in MENAT
As an equal opportunity company, GE recognizes the value that women in senior leadership positions bring to the company, and out of nearly 850 women in the MENAT team (excluding the employees at the Riyadh center), more than 25 are in senior leadership positions. GE’s focus on diversity fuels its innovation, fosters a limitless source of ideas and opportunities, and sees it as essential to foster productivity, meritocracy and lasting competitive advantage.
Among strategic initiatives to empower women, GE has launched the Women’s Network to promote female talent, and also launched a dedicated regional development program for women – GROW – the only one-of-its-kind within the organization. GE has also introduced Change Champions who support in recruiting, developing and retaining female talent.
In 2016, GE also launched a pilot program called ‘Return to Career (R2C),’ which enables women to return to jobs after career-breaks taken for reasons including having a family, taking care of one’s parents, relocation to another country and so on.
In the UAE, in addition to hiring female technical talent, GE has also created a tailored program targeting women with up to 10 years of career experience. Through a ten-week programme, women work on specific projects and assignments with clearly defined outcomes. They are also offered coaching, mentoring and networking opportunities. The first batch of the program had eight participants; four of them are now employed at GE.
In 2009, GE had zero women in its team in Saudi Arabia; today there are over 100, in addition to over 600 women who work at the all-female business process center opened by GE in association with Saudi Aramco and TCS in Riyadh. The goal is to hire 3,000 women for the center in the coming years.
“We believe that in order to further empower a talent pool of women leaders, our investment must begin early, starting with academia. Our integrated approach begins with working with schools and universities extensively to identify and support the brightest talent. Our innate focus on hiring female talent and building their capacity is also aligned with the goals of regional governments, which have outlined women empowerment as a strategic priority,” concluded Nabil.