Future government leaders and senior business executives urgently need to adopt a more inclusive attitude towards women and to value their role in the workplace. That was the key message delivered at the launch today of the internationally acclaimed book Why Women Mean Business: Understanding the Emergence of Our Next Economic Revolution, by Avivah Wittenberg-Cox, with former Financial Times writer Alison Maitland.
The event, held at the Abu Dhabi Cultural Foundation, and sponsored by the Department of Civil Service with the support of the INSEAD Centre for Executive Education and Research in Abu Dhabi, included a presentation of the key evidence underscoring the economic importance of women by Wittenberg-Cox, an INSEAD alumni and one of Europe’s leading gender strategy consultants.
In Why Women Mean Business, Wittenberg-Cox argues that gender is - along with the internet and the environment - one of the key issues business leaders globally will face in the decades to come.
Studies by the INSEAD Centre in Abu Dhabi show that while female entrepreneurship is gaining ground in the Gulf Cooperation Council, and the situation is improving in the rest of the Arab world, the share of women entrepreneurs in the Middle East and North Africa region is far lower than elsewhere in the world.
Peter Jadersten, Executive Director of INSEAD Centre in Abu Dhabi, adds that the lack of data available on women in management and leadership in the Middle East is one of the reasons that INSEAD is engaged in researching and organising events on management issues in the Middle East, especially on women.
Joining other panelists to discuss the implications for the Middle East, Sana Al Neaimi, Manager of Strategic Planning and Performance Management at the Department of Civil Service, said the issue of women in the workplace would grow in importance and needed to be confronted.
’My own department has made significant strides in creating a working environment where women feel they can flourish,’ Mrs. Al Neaimi said. ‘It’s an important requirement for us under the Policy Agenda. While the statistics are not yet as dramatic as we would like, the trend of women finding careers in the public sector is definitely on an upward curve.’
Mrs. Al Neaimi pointed to an increasing number of women assuming managerial positions in government departments, and the emergence of a number of women as potential government leaders, as evidence of a cultural shift.
’We constantly need to remind women that government departments are equal opportunity employers, but we must back that up with recruitment policies that are based on merit but still take women’s needs into account,’ she said.