Driving Gender Diversity in the UAE – How to develop a Robust Strategy Gillian Jones-Williams


The UAE is forging ahead with its commitment to gender diversity as it strives to be one of the top 25 countries in the world for gender equality by 2021. Each week sees more posts from HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai on his commitment to supporting gender parity in the UAE

On International Women’s Day in March this year, he also posted a heart-warming message to the women of the UAE ahead of the annual event when the royal revealed most of his staff are made up of females, in an Instagram picture.

“In the UAE we are proud to recognise [women] for their inspiration and great contributions,” wrote Sheikh Mohammed.

Statements like this along with the UAE Gender Parity Guide and commitment to the Women’s Empowerment Principles show that the UAE really means business. Organizations within the UAE are being asked to sign up to WEP’s and in total, more than 1852  business leaders around the world have demonstrated leadership on gender equality through WEP’s.

These ambitious commitments have seen a concerted drive by the government to set challenging targets for all organisations within the country, which have been outlined in the UAE Gender Balance Council Guide. This guide, launched in September 2017, articulates the countries vision and commitment to gender diversity and sets out the Bronze, Silver and Gold standards with which it expects organisations to operate and aspire to.

By delineating the improvements in this incremental way, it provides a roadmap for organizations to tailor a unique approach to addressing their gender diversity needs and affecting change in a customized and meaningful way. Many organizations in the UAE are already making serious attempts to increase gender parity with internal networks, mentoring, maternity coaching and Women’s Development Programmes plus other innovative initiatives, but the guide will help them to consolidate their offerings and get to the next level. For those who haven’t yet thought of how to tackle the subject there are some useful starting pointers to help them to work through the diversity maze.

Since its release, two experts in the field of gender parity and diversity, Gillian Jones-Williams and Sarah Christensen have been working to break the Gender Balance Guide down into easy-to-understood indicators and have designed a diagnostic tool that will allow organisations to easily see their current level of operating and identify areas for development for the future.  They have validated these indicators against WEP’s, the UK Investors in Diversity indicators and the Bloomberg Gender Equality index to ensure that best practice from the UAE, UK and US is broadly covered.

At the inaugural People Development Summit – 4/5 Feb 2019, Habtoor Grand Dubai –  Gillian and Sarah will run a workshop that allows HR Directors to identify their organisations current standing against the Bronze, Silver and Gold standards set out in the Gender Balance Guide and will facilitate round table discussions on Commitment, Policies, Development and Communication. They hope that this will help to ensure the alignment of organisational diversity strategy to the key components of the Guide. The workshop will also be a fantastic opportunity to hear from other organisations, ask questions and consider how to overcome any barriers they are facing within Gender Parity.

Author – Gillian Jones-Williams, Director, Emerge Development Consultancy

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