Embracing Workplace Diversity Can Transform Gulf Business Growth and Sustainability

Across the Arabian Gulf, organisations are fostering more diverse and inclusive workplaces, with a strong focus on supporting women in breaking barriers and entering new and exciting careers – especially in fields such as technology, sustainability, and government and Smart Cities.

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As part of the French Business Council Dubai’s event to “Embrace Diversity”, we’re celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political benefits of having a more diverse and inclusive workplace.

Women have made enormous progress in the Arabian Gulf in taking on senior leadership roles in the public and private sectors. However, there is still more work to be done by the public and private sectors to foster diversity and empower women in the workplace, community, and marketplace.

French companies and organisations operating in the UAE are coming together, through the French Business Council Dubai, to exchange best practices on this important issue. Empowering women and embracing diversity are at the heart of societal transformation, and is aligned with the UAE government’s economic growth and women’s empowerment visions, as well.

For example, Schneider Electric, as one of the world’s leading enablers of the digital transformation of energy management and automation, is committed to supporting diverse workplaces.

One of our most important initiatives is partnering with the French Business Council Dubai, joining more than 1,700 business leaders, in support of the Women’s Empowerment Principles, which are backed by the United Nations Global Compact and United Nations Women. The principles across leadership, equal opportunity, health and safety, education and training, enterprise development, community leadership and engagement, and transparency aim to remove the glass ceiling.

As a result, organisations can unleash women’s talents, skills, experience, and energy in order to build stronger economies and propel business success. On the back of International Women’s Day, the business and economic benefits of promoting women into decision-making roles can lead to increased profitability and growth. One report by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants shows that gender parity in the workplace could add USD 12 trillion in global GDP by 2025.

Strong Business Benefits of Embracing Diversity

Empowering women is one of the four key pillars of Schneider Electric’s diversity strategy, along with commitment by leaders, change management campaigns, and aligning with human resources. We are exchanging best practices with members of the French Business Council Dubai, and with organisations across the Arabian Gulf, and worldwide. By providing equal opportunities to everyone, everywhere, Schneider Electric aims to become the world’s most diverse and inclusive company.

A more diverse workplace is not only the morally right thing to do, but it also helps to generate diverse ideas, thoughts, and experiences. Across our global workforce of 144,000 employees, we are fostering greater engagement, performance, and innovation. Diversity is our heritage and future. Diversity and inclusion policies have led to immense business benefits at Schneider Electric. We have seen four times higher innovation, twice as high customer orientation scores, three times higher employee engagement, and turnover rates that have been cut in half.

Aligned with our mission to ensure “Life is On” everywhere, Schneider Electric has been recognised for our diversity and inclusion initiatives. For example, we were listed in the 2018 Bloomberg Gender Equality Index, which is a barometer of gender-equality performance across worldwide sectors. We are supporting the HeForShe IMPACT 10x10x10 initiative, bringing together 10 heads of state, 10 global CEOs and 10 University Presidents to act as role models and set the tone for gender equality.

Fostering a Workplace Culture that Embraces Diversity

But becoming a more diverse workplace is not based on business benefits, KPIs, and industry recognition alone. Organisations need to change corporate culture to become more inclusive, where all forms of diversity are seen as contributing real value to the company.

From the top down, organisations in the Arabian Gulf should ensure that diversity is viewed as a strategic asset, with inclusion principles applied across the entire workplace. Diversity also should be based on respect and dignity, with corporate support for communities and diversity-awareness training. Finally, diversity and inclusion are the foundation for fairness and quality.

“While corporate policies such as flexible working hours, personal leave, and coaches and mentors can foster a more inclusive workplace, ultimately individual’s success comes down to our own will,” said Hanan Darwish, Cluster President – Gulf and Pakistan, Schneider Electric. “We are more enabled than ever before, and we need to empower ourselves to achieve success.”

“Diversity is in our DNA -- leading our present and predicting our future,” added Hanan Darwish. “Across the Arabian Gulf and worldwide, each and every one of us, men and women together, is responsible for achieving inclusion and diversity, and building a culture that embraces uniqueness and diversity.” 



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