Women hold key to unlocking corporate trillions
Dubai, February 4, 2014
The Mena and South Asian region holds up to $10 trillion of untapped potential, according to a recent study by Frost & Sullivan, and the one of the keys to accessing this opportunity is through development of senior women finance professionals, said a working group hosted by the ACCA, the global body for professional accountants.
The session was attended by senior female professionals from leading international and regional organisations including; DP world, Deloitte, Etihad Airways, Shell, Ernst & Young, PwC, KPMG and the Pearl Initiative.
The session highlighted not only the challenges women face in reaching the most senior positions in business, the need to develop skills that will enable women to reach board-level positions and the commercial imperatives for greater inclusion.
According to ACCA’s study, "Women in finance: a springboard to corporate board positions," proportionally, women are more successful in attaining board positions where they have a financial background – 45 per cent of female executive directors are financially qualified compared to their male counterparts (26 per cent).
In total the study found that 65 per cent of female executive directors have a financial background compared to 44 per cent of male executive directors.
ACCA is committed to backing the gender and diversity imperative, in the pursuit of fairness and better business. This event was part of a wider programme examining issues such as women and leadership and financial capabilities.
The discussion highlighted that the solution to increase women participation is not necessarily through legislation, quotas and targets, but through practical steps that could make a substantive difference.
According to the ACCA experts, these could be mentoring strategies implemented throughout the profession, frequent networking to ensure women are truly plugged into the industry and research to highlight the gaps in the system that can be addressed to facilitate more women reaching senior leadership positions.
The outcome of this event was a commitment to agree the next steps required to address the lack of women in senior positions.
This includes collaboration with leading experts in the field of corporate governance such as participation in a study by The Pearl Initiative and Reach, an organisation dedicated to developing women who working the finance profession.
Cynthia Corby, the audit partner at Deloitte and mediator of ACCA’s session said: "Ultimately, to reach board level in the finance profession, the technical skills and experience have been clearly demonstrated. It is therefore the soft skills innate in women that can set you apart in the board room."
“We have a responsibility to women working hard to progress in their careers to offer the support and guidance necessary to enable them to reach their potential. We have laid the groundwork in discussion and now, it is time to see how we can put all the insights gathered today into action across the UAE,” she remarked.
Susie Isaacson, the head of UAE, ACCA, said: “Today’s discussion was an insightful and above all, honest discussion about how we aim to develop our promising future leaders to reach the senior management levels they have the potential to achieve."
“This event brought together some of the most senior women in Mena region’s financial sector and learning from their own experiences in climbing the career ladder will help us form a robust and considered strategy we can put into action,” she added.-TradeArabia News Service