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Press release: UAE companies embrace diversity in boardrooms

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Editor 3 August 2021
United Arab Emirates, 03 August 2021: Nineteen listed companies in the UAE have appointed female board members following the mandate passed by the Securities and Commodities Authority (ESCA) in March this year to empower Emirati women and encourage more females to play a greater role on the boards of listed companies. 111 listed companies are to appoint at least one woman to their boards either at the time of electing members which takes place in Q1 2022 or prior to that period, should a current board member resign or if an additional chair is added.
To further drive female representation in UAE boardrooms, the second Board Summit, an initiative of Aurora50, the UAE-based social enterprise and change accelerator, will take place in September. Research has shown companies with diverse boardrooms thrive in the long term and both benefit the economy and society. One of the goals of the summit is to encourage boards to invest time and energy in making diverse appointments not just to achieve a target but because it will have a positive impact on the performance of their business.
The Board Summit will bring together UAE ministers, policy makers, regulators, chairpersons, board members and C suite executives to discuss the economic benefits of increased diversity on boards in the country and to provide direct access to board-ready female talent for the UAE’s companies to connect with.
The UAE ranked first in the Arab World, and 18th globally in the Gender Inequality Index (GII) of the United Nations Development Programme’s Human Development Report 2020, for its commitment to advancing women’s rights. It moved eight positions up from its previous rank of 26 in 2019. This was praised by HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
Speakers from the inaugural Board Summit, H.E Abdulla bin Touq al Marri, UAE Minister of Economy, and Chairman Emirates Securities and Commodities Authority (ESCA), and H.E Sheikha Lubna al Qasimi, Former Minister and Board Director, underscored that women play a fundamental role in the shaping the nation’s future. Furthermore, UAE’s Vision 2021 envisages full participation of women in decision-making positions, which will not only enhance diversity in UAE’s corporate decision making, performance and profits, but also help in raising the UAE’s position on UN’s Human Development Index, an indicator of a country’s development. Auroro50’s Second Annual Board Summit will provide a key platform towards the achievement of these goals.
Commenting on the annual Board Summit taking place this year, Hatem Dowidar, Group CEO, Etisalat said, “The UAE has been making remarkable progress in boosting women’s participation in the public and private sector with several country wide initiatives. This heightened level of awareness on gender diversity and concerted efforts to promote diversity across different industries in various leadership roles have helped empower women. In line with the wise vision of the UAE leadership, Etisalat worked continuously to have gender equality in the workplace with women taking up various leadership positions in the company bringing their diverse experiences and perspectives contributing to innovation and better decision making. The Annual Board Summit is a great platform to showcase the transformative effect of an inclusive board sparking creativity, innovation, and competitiveness.”
Diana Wilde, CEO and Co-Founder of Aurora50 spoke out on gender balance in the workplace, commenting, “board diversity should be a priority for every organisation. It is proven that companies with diverse boards outperform their peers. At Aurora50, we champion diversity because we have witnessed how these changes are positively impacting the competitiveness of companies in the UAE and beyond. We are here to provide evidence-based perspectives and advice companies on how they can engage highly competent women and increase diversity on boards. Our partners recognise this and have paved the way for a positive shift towards gender-balanced boards. The Board Summit has played a crucial role in changing the narrative about how diverse boardrooms impact corporate performance whilst connecting board-ready women in bridging the network gap.”
During the three days of the Summit, there will be over 12 high-level keynote sessions from ministers, government regulators and chairs, as well as high-energy panel discussions emphasizing board leadership. The speakers and panelists will also discuss new opportunities presented by the UAE’s ongoing efforts to promote women on boards to attract FDI and improve competitiveness.
The Summit, supported by the Securities & Commodities Authority (SCA), the UAE Central Bank, Etisalat, Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), Abu Dhabi Ports, Tabreed, and Nasdaq, plays a vital role in raising awareness of how greater representation of women in the boardroom has a positive impact on an organization’s bottom line.
Registrations for the Board Summit are open on the Aurora50 website.