An important day for females in the UAE… and beyond

HH Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum

Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Prime Minister and Vice President of the United Arab Emirates, at the World Economic Forum Summit on the Global Agenda 2008 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On Sunday (December 9, 2012), His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum chaired a Cabinet meeting and made a series of announcements through his official Twitter account @HHShkMohd.

Here is the one I want to celebrate today :

We have also made a decision to make the representation of women, in all the boards of directors of companies & gov. entities, compulsory.

Women proved themselves in many workplaces & today we want them to have a strong presence in decision-making positions in our institutions.

What a great announcement on women’s position in the UAE society !

As highlighted in the November 2011 Deloitte report, “Women in the Boardroom : a global perspective“, very few countries in the world have quotas or mandatory female representation on Boards.

In the western world, Norway has binding quotas, while France, Italy, Spain, Belgium and Iceland recently introduced voluntary quotas. The EU Commission reports that less than 15% of Board members are female across the EU, yet less than 2 months ago, a proposal to introduce binding quotas in the EU was postponed.

And now the UAE will be one of the few countries that support their females into the highest levels of decision-making and governance. Emirati women can be proud of their leaders, who are making forward-looking decisions on their representation at all levels of society, including the highest ones.

Of course we should expect a lot more information to come out eventually, with newspapers speculating today that quotas may be introduced. I’ve written before that I believe that quotas will be required, hopefully for a transition time (whih may last a good generation). We’ll have to wait to see how the government dictates for things to happen.

No matter what, I think this is a fantastic opportunity for females in the country. It will bring a lot of fresh air in the Boards in the UAE, which are currently almost exclusively made of men. Governance will be influenced by this influx of new blood and a different way of thinking.

I anticipate that it will eventually cascade into more efforts being made to groom local females for leadership roles, as organisations will have to ensure that these females are properly prepared for the duties and decision-making responsibilities linked to being a Board member. So indirectly, this decision will also impact emiratisation policies in the organisations that will be impacted by this announcement.

I’m seeing interesting times ahead of us in the UAE !


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  2. […] in Boards for share price and economic results of their companies. Let’s finish with my own article about why the decision will have a profound impact on HR activities in the UAE in the coming years, […]

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