Appointing more women to company boards in the Gulf Coast Countries (GCC) is “not a priority” in the current economic climate, according to research undertaken by Deloitte with the GCC Chapter of the 30% Club.
The research found that executives believe there are more pressing concerns at present such as oil prices and geopolitics.
“… the majority of respondents felt that a greater number of women at board level is not a priority in the GCC presently, although some noted that this could also be said of anywhere in the world, and that gender diversity is a concept that is often talked about but not acted upon,” said the report.
One respondent, a male expat, told Deloitte: “The cultural attitude is the overwhelming factor why there aren’t more senior women.
“It’s unrealistic to expect companies to overcome these cultural and societal issues—it’s an uphill battle.”
The study came as the 30% Club launched its GCC Chapter. Deloitte points out that female membership of GCC boards is currently only at 2%, according to the International Labour Organisation. The GCC Board of Directors Institute places the number at less than 1%.
The 30% Club notes on its homepage that the figure for the FTSE 100 is currently 26%. The S&P 100 is 23.2% while the Hang Seng 50 in Hong Kong is 11.9%.
Humana Abu-Hannoud, a founding member of the GCC chapter of the 30% Club, and head of corporate affairs at Hills Advertising in Dubai, recently told The National newspaper: “It is not a qualification issue; there are many qualified and board-ready women out there.
“The question is, how much awareness is there about the value of the role of women on boards, and how much access and exposure is there to the pool of qualified women that are ready to serve on boards?”
The 30% Club was launched in the UK in 2010.