Inclusion progress unaffected by COVID-19: Saudi female business leaders

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Forty-seven percent of Saudi female leaders do not expect COVID-19 to slow down progress on diversity and inclusion, a new survey revealed, while around one-in-three are still unsure about the pandemic’s impact on progress.

Conducted last year, KPMG’s Female Leaders Outlook 2020, surveyed 675 female leaders from 52 countries around the world, including 25 from Saudi Arabia. The report explored corporate gender equality and inclusive leadership.

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In the survey, female leaders cited several key steps that can be taken to turn the COVID-19 crisis into an opportunity for women. Using remote work to bring more women into the work force was noted as a key area of opportunity, and 23 percent of Saudi female leaders, double the global figure, saw quotas for female leadership as a factor for future success.

The report found 66 percent of female leaders in the Kingdom, and more than half (58 percent) of global respondents, remain confident about their companies’ growth prospects over the next three years.

Eighty-one percent of female leaders in Saudi Arabia stated that their company’s digital transformation projects had accelerated during the COVID-19 crisis.

“New technology and innovation will be the driver for growth. Hence, it is a good time for female leaders to become involved and shape the future,” said Kholoud Mousa, a partner and head of inclusion and diversity at KPMG.

The survey also revealed that 73 percent of respondents believe that females are likely to be their successor in the Kingdom, versus 53 percent internationally. A fact that could indicate the positive future for gender equality in the Saudi workforce.

“Looking ahead, the survey shows that Saudi female leaders have clearly defined objectives for their companies and are keenly aware of the present and future challenges.” Mousa concluded.

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