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Press release: Diversity on the rise for UAE boards

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Editor 16 June 2022
  • Research undertaken reveals that 8.9% of board seats in the UAE are now held by women, up from 3.5% in 2020
  • The first-of-its-kind report, sponsored by ADNOC, highlights key strategies for aspiring women to reach independent board positions in just a decade, curated from research with current regional women board directors
United Arab Emirates, 11 May 2022: The UAE’s continued efforts to improve gender diversity in the boardroom have led to more women holding board positions this year (8.9 percent), up from 3.5 percent in 2020, according to research undertaken by Aurora50, a social enterprise working towards gender parity in GCC boardrooms, and Mohammed Bin Rashid School of Government (MBRSG).
The report, Non-executive board careers in the UAE: A path to gender balance, sponsored by ADNOC, reveals that 54 of the 808 board seats on the 113 listed companies on the Dubai Financial Market (DFM) and the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX) are now held by women.
The boost to women on boards in the UAE follows Emirates Securities and Commodities Authority (ESCA) setting a quota last year mandating all listed companies in the UAE to appoint at least one woman to their boards.
In a first-of-its-kind study undertaken in the region, the report interviewed 16 women with independent non-executive board directorships to understand key steps that aspiring women board directors can proactively take throughout their careers to reach non-executive board roles.
Diana Wilde, co-founder of Aurora50, said: “It is excellent to see such progress being made in boardrooms across the UAE, but we know there is a lot more that can be done to accelerate the pace of change. We hope this report will help women in the UAE and the region to confidently make their way to the top.
“As one of the existing women board directors who was interviewed said, ‘Women need to strategically plan the career they wish to have.’ If an aspiring woman does this, using our five-step plan, her timeline to become a non-executive board director, or NED, is just 10-15 years. On the one hand this is encouraging news for women but means it is imperative to plan a board career early, to plan it well and with careful thought.
“As companies begin to disclose their representation levels in their annual reports, and as Aurora50 deepens its relationships with the regulators, we hope to be able to provide detailed statistics on women’s representation at the board level in the UAE very soon.”
Fatema Al Nuaimi, CEO, ADNOC LNG, said, “ADNOC is committed to supporting gender balance and helping women develop and excel in their careers, which is why we are proud to have collaborated with Aurora50 on this research initiative.
“This research provides us better insight and actionable recommendations to further accelerate gender diversity on boards and support the national gender balance agenda.”
Ms Al Nuaimi is one of ADNOC Group’s three chief executives and the oil company has committed to ensuring at least one woman sits on the board of every ADNOC Group company by the end of 2022; currently 17 sit on the 22 boards. ADNOC, which has its own gender balance committee and women’s leadership development programme, was Aurora50’s very first corporate client.

Five steps to the top

To ensure UAE companies continue to find talented women board directors, the report sets out five steps to ensure aspiring women are appointed to their first non-executive board director in 10-15 years or less:
  1. Plan: Women should take the opportunity to plan their career to the board very early on, then hone their technical competencies, industry expertise and independent thinking to develop the governing skills vital to board directors.
  2. Build: In this phase of their career, women should aim to develop soft skill and networks as well as learning their craft to gain experiences valuable to the boardroom.
  3. Brand: Next, women should focus on their personal brand to raise awareness about who they are and to make it widely known that they are ready for a board role, rather than waiting for good performance to shine through.
  4. Sustain: This phase of the career is about balance. Women need to develop and maintain a strong support system in life as they add ongoing board director duties to their role in an executive day job.
  5. Give: Lastly, having reached the board pinnacle, women can help other women climb up the ladder and give back by mentoring and nominating other talented women, sharing their experiences and helping to change mindsets.
The complete report,   Non-executive board careers in the UAE: A path to gender balance, can be accessed here:

About Aurora50

Aurora50 is an Abu Dhabi-based social enterprise working towards gender parity in GCC boardrooms, at both listed and privately-owned companies, by building a pipeline of competent women.
It runs board and management accelerator programmes and the Manarat networking club for women directors, hosts The Board Summit annually, where hundreds of board directors and aspiring women directors meet, undertakes research and tracks regional gender balance data.
Aurora50 works with listed corporations, large private organisations and high-growth businesses  alike to tailor their diversity, equity and inclusion (also known as DE&I, D&I, DEI or EDI) strategies and improve their Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG) ratings in line with the United Nations’ sustainable development goal 5 (SDG5) of gender equality and its 2030 Agenda, which has been adopted by the UAE alongside its national development plan, Vision 2071 and previously Vision 2021.
Aurora50 was co-founded by Sheikha Shamma bint Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan and Diana Wilde in 2020.
More information about Aurora50 is available at:
For further information please contact: 
Houbara Communications
Nishkka Manglani
+971 4 3901630