Inclusion Summit Drives UAE’s Gender Equality Strategy
The Inclusion Summit set a Guinness World Record for the most pledges received for a “gender equality in the workplace campaign” in 24 hours when more than 5,000 people signed the pledge, both at the Summit and online, allowing people from all over the world to take part in the record-breaking attempt. A majority of the pledges came from UAE-based people, underlining the UAE’s ongoing commitment to gender equality.
Hosted by Aurora50, a DEI impact agency, the two-day high-level platform brought together Ministers, policymakers, board directors, C-suite executives, senior decision-makers, people of determination, and youth to lead the conversation, drive change and pave the way for growth and innovation through the power of inclusion.
Post event, all Summit attendees who signed the world-record breaking gender equality pledge will receive a digital toolkit and resources provided by ADNOC and Aurora50, describing how to take actionable steps towards creating a more inclusive workplace.
Diana Wilde, co-founder of event organiser, Aurora50, said: “Our aim is to drive a positive impact and to create a ripple effect. Over 7000 people pledged and will receive a toolkit and advice to help them drive change in their own organisations. Through conversations and changes in workplace policies, we hope to see a tangible shift in workplace cultures, where gender equality is not just a pledge but a lived reality. Our goal is to foster inclusive environments where every individual feels valued and empowered, ultimately transforming workplaces into hubs of diversity, equity, and inclusion.”
The two-day hybrid event saw in-person and virtual attendees accessing unmatched opportunities to meet senior DEI influencers and decision makers, and to explore, debate and challenge modern DE&I initiatives - and the importance of integrating inclusion to business and UAE strategies.
The Summit was supported by ADNOC, Aurora50’s anchor partner for its first initiative which accelerated gender balance in UAE boardrooms. ADNOC continues to make strong progress in driving gender balance and has increased female representation on site by 32 percent since 2017. The company also is looking to accelerate their gender equality efforts through their recent collaboration with the UAE Gender Balance Council.
At the Summit, Emirates Global Aluminium (EGA) brought together eight leading companies in the UAE’s heavy industry sector to launch the ‘Challenger Programme’ to promote gender diversity in traditionally male-dominated industrial sector by sharing innovation and best practice on practical challenges all the companies face.
EGA is already pioneering the role of women in heavy industry in the UAE, employing over 470 women worldwide, in roles ranging from shift technicians to executive leadership. Women hold around 20 percent of UAE supervisory roles today. EGA aims to increase that to 25 percent by 2025, and to have 15 percent of all positions at the company held by women by 2026.
Talking to SME10x, Wilde, co-founder of Aurora50, added that SMEs can start with the basics first. For example, she advocated that they should encourage gender-neutral language. “Use gender-neutral language in job descriptions and communications. This simple yet impactful step helps in eliminating biases and encourages a more diverse pool of candidates to apply. Once you understand who needs more support for you to achieve your DEI goals establish or encourage employees to join equity programmes. SMEs can retain their top talent by supporting their progress and development. This also creates a virtuous circle as it creates role models.”
Wilde says that business owners should ensure all employees are involved and understand the importance of DEI targets. “This is a journey, and all employees need to be part of it. It is vital that all employees understand why inclusive companies outperform their peers and what your business is aiming to achieve.”
A recent report cited a lack of men being educated on the subject and helping to drive change as the top reasons for gender equality not being achieved.
“We encourage employers and owners to sign up to our newsletter to receive regular updates on DEI stats and DEI news which can be used to educate,” Wilde concluded. “Provide your teams with the opportunity to discuss and create actionable steps. For more established companies we recommend working with third parties so employees can voice their concerns and ideas.”
The World Economic Forum estimates, it could take 131 years to close the gender pay gap. The Middle East and North Africa remains the region furthest from parity, with 62.6 percent of the gender gap closed. This represents a 0.9 percent point decline in parity since the last edition of the Global Gender Gap Report. The United Arab Emirates (71.2 percent) has achieved the highest parity in the region, but much more needs to be done.