The Complete Human Resource Publication

SAUDI ARABIA SPECIAL

Women Workforce makes up Majority across Globe KSA has Boundless Opportunities
85% of employed Saudi women work in education, 6% in public health, and 95% in the public sector 

           
 

In the past year, there were two significant achievements in the business world that was heralded as the ‘year of the woman CEO’.

General Motors the bastion of a male dominated industry named Mary Barros as CEO. Yes, a woman is now leading the largest automaker. It was always said that the ‘Big Three’ automakers needed leaders with cars in their vien. That was a pseudonym for male workers. Basically women need not apply. Matter of fact, it was only later years that women were allowed to work in the automobile factories.

Yahoo! in trying to right their ship named Marissa Meyer as their CEO. In the internet/new media industry, it is all but dominated by men for the most part at the C-Level. Again women need not apply.

I grew up in an era where people that looked like me did not get a job no matter how qualified. Regardless of GPA, University pedigree or connections etc, it was not going to happen. There were no written rules, just kind of a wink and nod that only ‘certain type people apply’. It took years for people that had my hue to be interviewed and to be able to compete. My case was years ago.

Thankfully, those days have changed and are now part of history for all of the above.

But Is It Really a Thing Of The Past?

However, these situations concerning the C-Suite happened in 2013 and it made the headlines for gender based news. But if it was an accepted practice, it would have made nary a ripple in the media. This tells me that there is still a long way to go for these senior level roles.

We all know that cultural mores and ways were a long time in the making and it will not stop overnight. There are a lot of countries where the employment of women has not come full circle. However, talent is talent. The more people you have of different persuasions on your team, the better the outcome of your strategic approach. This divergence of views and approach is sorely needed in organisations today.

We do not come to work and leave our experiences at home. Our experiences and background have a direct impact on how we do our job every day. With a diverse team on hand, you have the ability to view problems, issues and challenges through multiple prisms.

That alone is reason enough for organisations to make it their mission to bring in talent wherever they find it.

Strategic Goals Intertwined with Gender?

When a business creates a strategic goal, that goal is designed to enable the organisation to accomplish its mission. Those goals and actions usually flow from strategy. To accomplish or reach this destination, it is all hands on deck. It never would mention gender as being part of that all hands framework. When a new and innovative product or process is needed, it does not specify gender. Matter of fact throughout the realms of business, there is no mention that gender specific is valued. However to reach whatever summit the organisations deems the destination, it is imperative that we have a mix of ideas. Remember our experiences and background affects our views and our approach.

History in the Making

The level of empowerment of women in the workforce today will go down as one of the most remarkable revolutions over the past 50 years. Although in a lot of industries that barrier is still there, however, it is a lot more invisible. This movement has empowered women who were once dependent on others to now control their own economic fate. For the most part that has been welcomed because of the expanded economic opportunity it has given families.

The US workforce is made up of 51 percent women. On top of that some of the world’s biggest companies are now run by women such as PepsiCo, Archer Daniels Midland and WL Gore. On top of that, women earn almost 60 percent of university degrees in America and Europe.

In Saudi Arabia, women comprise 60 percent of college students but only 21 percent of its workforce, much lower than in neighboring countries. 85 percent of employed Saudi women work in education, six percent in public health, and 95 percent in the public sector. If this were a business case with these numbers, the opportunities are boundless if this segment of the workforce is brought into the corporate sector.

Across the globe women make up the majority of professional workers in many countries. Even holdouts such as the Mediterranean countries are changing rapidly. In Spain, the proportion of young women in the labour force has now reached American levels. The glass is much nearer to being half full than half empty.

The world has seen a growing demand for women’s workforce. During the industrial age brute strength mattered more than brains. But in the new age of talent, brainpower has triumphed the two sexes are more evenly matched. The feminisation of the workforce has been driven by the relentless rise of the service sector and the equally relentless decline of manufacturing. This profound change has opened up tremendous opportunity for women in the workplace.

The expansion of higher education has also been a driving factor in this transformation and has tremendously increased the job prospects for women, improving their value on the job market and shifting their role models to successful professional women. The best-educated women have always been more likely than other women to work. Today 80 percent of American women with a college education are in the labour force compared with 67 percent of those with a high school diploma and 47 percent of those without one.

Women will also be the prime beneficiaries of the growing ‘war for talent’. The combination of an ageing workforce and a more skill-dependent economy means that countries will have to make better use of their female populations in order to be competitive and to attract investment.

Ms Entrepreneur

On the other hand, many talented women are already hopping off the corporate treadmill to form companies that better meet their needs. In the past decade, the number of privately owned companies started by women in America has increased twice as fast as the number owned by men. This is a trend that will continue as more women flex their newly realised muscle to strike out on their own. The added value of being independent makes it worth a try. So they may not all be looking to go the corporate route as much as that is prescribed in advanced education.

Be a Participant or be a Bystander

Either way you look at the feminisation of the workforce, they are now firmly in the drivers seat and can pick and choose from opportunities all over the globe. Countries as well as organisations will have to begin thinking how to capitalise on this seismic shift in workforce dynamics. Prepare and be ready, otherwise you can have a front row seat in the VIP section as the world passes you by.

           
 

 

By Ron Thomas  

Ron Thomas is a Chief Human Resource & Administrative Officer at The RGTS Group Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He was formerly Director - Talent & HR Solutions at Buck Consultants. He is certified by the Human Capital Institute as a Master Human Capital Strategist (MHCS) and Strategic Workforce Planner (SWP).

 


 


 

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