Complex Made Simple

Abu Dhabi women groups hold high profile interactive panel event to discuss gender diversity on corporate boards

AmCham Abu Dhabi and the Central Business District Network of Women (CBD NOW) hosted a successful interactive breakfast event attended by over 150 people: ‘Women on Board: How to Attract, Retain and Promote Women on Corporate Boards’. The event was held at the Rosewood Hotel, Abu Dhabi in recognition of International Women’s Day 2014 and provided an opportunity to recognize the important role that women play in directorship capacities. The speakers explored the progress made so far in the UAE to increase female presence and improve women’s representation on corporate boards, and discussed what steps could be taken to set ourselves on the path of gender diversity. Her Excellency Fatima Al Jaber emphasized, “Ambition is the first step to success, the beginning of any journey.”

Mr. Ronald Herman, CEO of Mubadala GE Capital, opened the event with a welcoming introduction. The keynote speakers were Her Excellency Fatima Al Jaber, Board Member and Chair of Projects Committee of the Al Jaber Group, a prominent leader in the GCC region construction industry and a director on the Board of the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce & Industry, and Dr. Shaikha Al Maskari, Chairperson of Al Maskari Holdings, which she transformed into a highly successful conglomerate comprising 20 multinational firms and who serves on numerous corporate and non-profit boards.

The two distinguished keynote speakers talked about the challenges that they faced in advancing in their career, why diversity is important and how, in their experience, women can play a more significant role in the corporate world. Her Excellency noted that there are currently only 15 female board members in companies listed on the ADX and DFM, representing only 1.86% of the board seats on such companies. She continued by stating “We need to look at the broader picture, which is to bring in more women at all levels of each organization.” Dr. Shaikha Al Maskari encouraged the audience, stating, “We have to have moral courage to be on boards.”

Moderated by Julie Lewis, Founder of Mountain High, a distinguished panel of speakers, which included: Souad Al Hosani, Chairperson, Nexus Business Services; Mary C. Corrado, Country Director, AMIDEAST; Khuloud Al Nowais, Chief Sustainability Officer at the Emirates Foundation for Youth Development; and Muna Al Gurg, Director of Easa Saleh al Gurg Group, continued the debate and discussed the challenges faced by women seeking to climb the corporate ladder and how organizations may be missing out, due to the under-representation of women on boards, because they are unable to draw from the widest possible range of talent in the workforce. Muna Al Gurg’s view was that “Organizations need to focus on a ‘bottom to top’ approach.” Khuloud Al Nowais praised the leadership in the UAE backing women’s empowerment, but also stated that “We, as women, need to support each other.”

“AmCham Abu Dhabi’s Women in Business Committee (WIB) recognizes the importance of empowering women to be leaders in their fields and is proud to be a part of an event that promotes a key goal of its Women Achieve initiative: encouraging women to serve on boards,” said Ron Herman, CEO of Mubadala GE Capital and Co-Chair of AmCham Abu Dhabi Women in Business Committee. “Having two dynamic groups, AmCham’s Women in Business Committee and CBD NOW, working together to provide a platform to discuss the important role women play as directors and board members helps to promote female leaders of tomorrow.”

Carmen Jreissati, a CBD NOW representative, stated, “We are delighted to have two extraordinary businesswomen offer their insights on the challenges that women face in the corporate world. Her Excellency Fatima Al Jaber and Dr. Shaikha Al Maskari are not just recognized for their outstanding contributions and achievements in the corporate world but also for being role models for other women. Their engaging speeches today will empower, inspire and assist other women to realize their talent and to achieve greater accomplishments.”

For press inquiries contact:

Magdalena Suder
Head of Business Development & Marketing Middle East
Clifford Chance LLP
Tel: +971 4 362 0744

Nour Salman
Communications Manager
AmCham Abu Dhabi
Tel: +971 2 631 3604