IWD: Unlocking new levels of success for women

We must begin by recognizing the barriers that exist
IWD: Unlocking new levels of success for women
Fazeela Gopalani, Association of Certified Chartered Accountants (ACCA) Head in the Middle East

Breaking down the barriers to female executives taking on ever more expansive roles is a critical step in creating a more equitable, prosperous future for all. Despite women making up around half of today’s global workforce, this figure is much lower across Middle Eastern countries – with only approximately 25% being female executives. But together, we can work to bridge that gap!

On International Women’s Day and every day of the year, we at ACCA celebrate the progress made in increasing workplace gender equality. Part of this celebration is creating an environment where female executives can take on increasingly prominent leadership roles. But first, we must begin by recognizing the barriers that exist and working to remove them. From social norms and stereotypes to limited career advancement opportunities and lack of access to resources, female executives face unique challenges when it comes to career success.

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There are key steps that can be taken to break down these barriers:

Firstly, organizations should actively seek out female talent and promote gender diversity in all areas of their business operations. As a priority at ACCA, achieving more equitable representation for women in leadership positions has been identified as a key objective; it is our opportunity and responsibility to support females in their profession from entry level upwards until they reach the boardroom. It takes collective action over 365 days – not just on special occasions – to make real, impactful change happen, so let’s strive towards equal balance everywhere!

Secondly, we need the backing of the authorities through its laws and regulations, which can impede the advancement of women in executive roles. Thankfully, more governments are also implementing national strategies to support women into leadership roles. The UAE, for example, has a set quota for all listed companies to have at least one woman on their board by 2025. Having a national quota is crucial in tracking progress and holding organizations, both private and public ones, accountable.

Read: IWD: Hard work, skills and determination, not gender, define leadership

Finally, businesses must provide supportive workspaces with adequate resources, including implementing policies for equal pay and training programs to allow female executives reach their fullest potential. We must take steps to support female participation at all stages across their careers – especially during middle management, where momentum tends to decline for many women. With some gentle nudges, we could break down barriers that stand in the way of female executives taking on ever more expansive roles – empowering them with access to mentorships, resources, and support just like men receive during those crucial seven years before reaching executive status. It’s time for us as a society to open up possibilities for every woman seeking success!

It’s clear this requires more than just short-term solutions. By undertaking these measures, we can create an environment that allows women executives to thrive and have a real impact on society. This not only provides greater empowerment for women but also contributes toward creating a more inclusive world free of discrimination.

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