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What HR in the UAE say about DEI

Integration and inclusion - paper dolls and a jigsaw - Gerd Altmann, Pixabay
Suzanne Locke 30 June 2022
Aurora50 recently ran a diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) webinar with chief human resource officers (CHROs) and other HR experts from organisations in the region. We picked up on some fascinating nuggets of information.
  • DEI strategies are still new in the region. More than half of companies we spoke to do not have DEI strategies set up, and only a quarter of those who answered had one established for more than a year.
  • Key performance indicators for DEI are in place for just a third of the companies we spoke to.
  • Biggest DEI barriers: Stereotyping and unconscious bias is the biggest barrier for half the companies surveyed, followed by a leadership skill gap.
  • Gender initiatives such as International Women’s Day gifts can actually be divisive, we were told.
  • It’s not just about educating men – the HR specialists we spoke to pointed out that women can be blockers too. There’s a name for this: the Queen Bee syndrome. (There’s a report from the University of Cranfield report on queen bees at work, plus a good BBC article.)
  • We all need to be sponsors for talented individuals, with talent the emphasis regardless of gender: a good leader has a very strong succession pipeline.
  • A strong pipeline of Emirati women graduates is coming out of university now, particularly in financial services.
  • The race to hit DEI targets can be damaging to the organisation: people are promoted who are not yet ready, or the wrong people are recruited.
  • An overall value proposition appeals to all: a really good maternity policy and other softer benefits too.
  • Pain points were seen as being at both mid-manager (hiring) level and at the top.
  • Too much talent can fly under the radar if people do not advocate for themselves – again, regardless of gender. Initiatives to develop women in organisations that do not have many women can help them believe in themselves and apply for leadership roles.
  • ‘Inclusive leadership’ is becoming a common phrase in the UAE, particularly in the run-up to the UN’s climate change conference, Cop28, in Abu Dhabi next year after criticism of Cop26’s absence of women (the original hosting UK team for the Glasgow climate conference was all men, and only 21 percent of government ministers globally are female).
We also ran a quickfire survey and got these results. We’ll be doing more HR-focused webinars in future so do contact us if you’d like more information.
Graph: Aurora50 HR survey June 2022, results – Where are you on your DEI journey?
Graph: Aurora50 HR survey June 2022, results – Do you have DEI KPIs?
Graph: Aurora50 HR survey June 2022, results – What do you believe is the biggest barrier to an inclusive workplace?