UAE Ranks Highest in GCC for Women's Representation on Corporate Boards, says Report

UAE Ranks Highest in GCC for Women's Representation on Corporate Boards, says Report

Heriot-Watt University and Aurora50 today published a detailed analysis of the current state of women's representation on the boards of publicly listed companies in the GCC.

The report, entitled the 'GCC Board Gender Index Report', represents the first time that a comprehensive data set has been published collating all data across the GCC. It seeks to form the baseline data from which future progress can be measured.

The data will be collected annually and published in April each year, enabling future researchers to identify trends, challenges, and opportunities for increasing gender diversity in the boardroom and celebrating the region's collective progress towards more inclusive and diverse corporate leadership.

Key findings from this report show that in January 2024, of the 168 companies listed on the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX) and Dubai Financial Market (DFM), 137 out of 1,224 (11.2%) of board seats are held by women.

As of January 2024, women held 5.3% of the 5,584 board seats in 752 publicly listed companies across the GCC (UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia).

The report explains that this is a modest improvement from the past but still falls significantly short of global averages and the levels of representation seen in other parts of the world.

Country-wise, the percentage of board positions held by women at publicly listed companies across the GCC is UAE: 11.2% (137 of 1,224 seats); Bahrain: 5.5% (20 of 363 seats); Kuwait: 5.0% (48 of 963 seats); Oman: 5.8% (45 of 783 seats); Qatar: 1.8% (8 of 440 seats); and Saudi Arabia: 2.0% (36 of 1,811 seats).

Sheikha Shamma bint Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, co-founder of Aurora50, said,

"Our first initiative at Aurora50 was Pathway20, an accelerator for regional women board directors, and we still believe that progress in gender diversity starts at the top.

"A diverse board helps create a diverse, inclusive organisation: diversity creates impact for the organisation, industry and society. With such transparent data now available, the need for a pipeline of female talent, from managers to senior leaders to board directors, becomes increasingly clear.

"We are pleased to see that the UAE is doing so well and hope that our report with Heriot-Watt University Dubai contributes to gender balance in the GCC as a whole."

The CEO of the Securities and Commodities Authority Dr. Maryam Butti Al Suwaidi, said,

"Collating such a large amount of data, from such a diverse group of companies, and cross-verifying it is a huge task and responsibility. I truly commend the dedication of Aurora50 and Heriot-Watt University, and I am exceptionally delighted that this project is coming out of the UAE.

The publication of the annual list of companies quoted on GCC exchanges and their directors is innovative and incredibly valuable. Consolidating this publicly available information into a single accessible resource will facilitate greater transparency and understanding of board composition within the region. Such consistent visibility will certainly contribute to raising awareness about and promoting the benefits of gender diversity in the GCC region and increasing the participation of women in senior roles across the GCC.

Provost and Vice Principal of Heriot-Watt University Dubai Professor Dame Heather McGregor stated,

"I am pleased to have, with Aurora50, developed a comprehensive baseline from which I and other scholars and interested parties can measure – and celebrate - future progress."

News Source: Emirates News Agency

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