This trend witnessed by CTPartners in the Arab World, shows Arab women, especially from UAE, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, making powerful corporate leaders and board members. With an exemplary educational background and a strong sense of economic growth, Arab women have the right ingredients to become successful CEOs.
As per the recent survey on the Top 100 Most Powerful Arab Women by Arabian Business magazine, 14% of women featured in the survey have secured their place because they run successful regional conglomerates in their capacity as Chief Executive Officers. Lubna Al-Olayan, CEO of Olayan Financing Company of Saudi Arabia, Dr. Amina Al Rustamani, CEO, TECOM Business Parks UAE, Sheikha Al Bahar, CEO of National Bank of Kuwait, Salma Hareb CEO of JAFZA and EZW UAE and Randa Ayoubi, CEO of Rubicon Group Holding Jordan, made it to the Top 50 of that list, all prime examples of Arab women having the talent and the ability to lead multi-faceted regional organisations with global reach.
Arab women ranked amongst the most powerful 100 women in the world
Three Arab women were ranked amongst the 100 Most Powerful Women in the World by US-based Forbes magazine. These include CEO of the National Bank of Kuwait, Shaikha Al-Bahar, ranked 85, UAE Minister of Trade Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, ranked 92, and Sheikha Mayassa Al Thani, who heads the Qatari government agency in charge of museums, was ranked 100. Interestingly, 25% of the influential women featured in the Forbes survey were CEOs.
Few but more powerful women CEOs
Today, just 2.4 percent of world's leading companies are run by female CEOs, according to CTPartners. From six women CEOs running Fortune Global 500 companies in 2005 (1.2%) to 12 in 2012, there has been an addition of six women leaders over the past seven years. Even as this represents close to a 100% increase, the executive search firm says that this only works out to be an average increase of about one woman CEO a year.
The good news is that, while companies run by women ranked over 300 on the 2005 list, women today run some of the world's largest and most influential corporations. Meg Whitman for example, runs one of the 10 largest businesses on this planet, Hewlett-Packard. Virginia Rometty of IBM runs a corporation that is ranked 19th in the world. Other women CEOs run companies ranked 28th, 41st, 46th and so on. Only one woman runs a company ranked over 300 in this year's list and she is Cynthia Carroll from one of the world's largest diversified mining and natural resource groups, Anglo American.
2.4% of the purse strings
These 12 women CEOs are in charge of 2.4% of the total revenues of the Global 500 Companies in Asia, Europe and the US. Altogether, they control over U$ 680 billion in revenues today, compared to just US$ 102 billion by their counterparts in 2005. However, that amount in 2012 is still only 20 percent of the economy that Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany, oversees.
A woman CEO's life starts at 50
With the exception of Alison Cooper from Imperial Tobacco Group, who is in her forties, all women CEOs in the research are over 50 years old. None are over sixty.
American companies lead the way
From three female CEOs in 2005 to nine Global 500 female CEOs today, US companies have made the most progress in placing women in the top seat, tripling the number over the past seven years. Women CEOs from the US also run larger companies than their Asian and European counterparts, with revenues totaling $580bn altogether.
European companies make progress at snail's pace
European companies on the Global 500 list today hold the largest revenues ($10,138 trillion) as a group. But from only one woman CEO in 2005, there are just two women CEOs leading corporate heavyweights in Europe, ranked 145 and 360 globally.
Want to become a CEO? Switch to a career in technology or consumer goods
Consumer and technology companies appear to be the most open to hiring women CEOs. Yahoo!'s new CEO, Marissa Mayer and Google's Chief Operating Officer (COO), Sheryl Sandberg, have generated many news headlines this year, but women leaders are nothing new to technology powerhouses including Hewlett-Packard, IBM or even Xerox. Consumer goods companies, PepsiCo., Kraft Foods and TJX, each have a woman CEO.
Several studies have shown that diversity initiatives at the workplace have helped in placing more women in the C-suite in general. This research by CTPartners confirms that the top seat is surely, though slowly, being opened up to ambitious women at large corporations. Getting more women up to the very pinnacle of the corporate ladder, however, will take concerted talent development and retention. Florence Magne, Managing Partner at CTPartners comments: "We are witnessing a steady rise in the growth in the number of Arab women in top executive jobs in this region. They are becoming more ambitious and are continuing to cross cultural barriers, thus going from being heads of their families to small business owners to CEOs."