Imperative for Increasing Levels of Female Representation on Family Firm Boards, which Stands at 22%

“Increasing female representation in the boardroom is not just a woman’s issue, but a business issue, consistent with global best practices in corporate governance.” This was the key message of Badr Jafar, CEO of Crescent Enterprises and founder of the Pearl Initiative, as he addressed women entrepreneurs today at a Womanity Foundation event held in Dubai in collaboration with the Dubai Business Women’s Council.

According to research carried out by the Pearl Initiative, a private sector-led, not-for-profit organisation developed in partnership with the United Nations Office of Partnerships and the UN Global Compact, 22% of family owned companies surveyed from across the region have female representation on their boards. In his speech, Jafar discussed these statistics while emphasising that there is still a very strong business case for increasing women representation in senior management levels and an on the board; according to a study of Fortune 500 companies conducted in 2012, firms with the highest proportion of women board directors outperformed those with the least by 66%.

Badr Jafar stated: “With 20% more female UAE Nationals enrolled in further education than men, it is imperative that we see these numbers transcribed into the workplace. Capitalising on the skills and knowledge of educated and motivated women will set the tone for embedding a culture of female empowerment into the day-to-day business operations throughout every industry and across the entire region.”

Recognising the need to support women in their efforts to succeed in the corporate world, the Pearl Initiative recently partnered with the Sharjah Business Women Council (SBWC) to develop a programme to support the advancement of women in senior management and Board positions across the GCC. Its overall aim will be to inform business leaders on practical methods of attracting, retaining and developing women into senior positions, creating a larger pool of boardroom ready individuals.

Speaking on the importance of the Womanity Foundation’s initiatives, Founder and President Yann Borgstedt stated, “We are delighted to have ventured into the UAE and deeply grateful to the exceptional females who have joined today’s conversation for their constructive creativity and their spirit of collaboration. At the Womanity Foundation, we are always looking for innovative and effective ways to strengthen the role of women in their societies, for the benefit of the community at large. We have successfully pioneered media projects as part of this priority and are keen to share our experience with others, so as to multiply the impact of the models we have developed.”

This year’s Womanity Foundation event was attended by several high profile Arab businesswomen with discussions under the theme of ‘Worth 100 Men: Unveiling the misconceptions about women empowerment in the Middle East’. Participants included: Khuloud Hasan Al Nuwais, Chief Sustainability Officer, Emirates Foundation; Nada Askar, Manager of Women Sports Department, Sharjah Ladies Club; Taghrid Alsaeed, Head of Digital Communications Group Communications, Mubadla, and Nivine Afiouni, Editor, Skynewsarabia.

The Womanity Foundation is an independent private initiative established in 2005 to empower women to shape their future and accelerate progress within their communities. Today, the Foundation continues its work in Afghanistan, Brazil, Haiti, India, Israel, Morocco and the Palestinian Territories with its main office in Geneva, Switzerland.

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