This short piece requires a disclaimer that I am no diversity expert but as a father of 3 daughters and possibly one more on the way in March, my thoughts often turn to them and what the future will look like for them when they enter the workforce.
- Will there be equal pay?
- Will we achieve 50% of senior roles being held by women?
- Will they feel they can fulfil their dreams?
These are typical questions any parent asks but they really came home to roost for me at 30,000 feet above Europe after spending a few fascinating days in Oman last week meeting with various business leaders.
What became so apparent was that many of the senior roles are held by women in Oman. This was remarkable and so I started asking about it and how it’s been achieved. As you might expect but it’s good to hear it reinforced, it starts at school and how from a very young age, girls are encouraged to think about their careers and to believe that they can achieve anything they put their mind to. More than 65% of the top ten high school results are achieved by girls and more than 85% of the annual in-take is female at a local Medical College in Muscat.
However, it’s not just at school. There is also a strong emphasis and focus by the Ministry of Education and the business community. In fact, both the Minister of Education and Higher Education are women. At our local firm in Oman, our Managing Partner, Nasser Al Mugheiry, told me that of 24 graduate applications received last year, 65% were women. Currently the office is 41% female.
As set out in the latest Grant Thornton Diversity Snapshot, it then comes as no surprise that Africa is only second to Eastern Europe in terms of the percentage of senior roles held by women but the global leader in terms of the importance being placed on gender diversity. Back in the UK, we are working hard and there are certainly some brilliant initiatives like the 30% Club which has a goal of achieving a minimum of 30% women on FTSE-100 boards. It currently stands at 28%.
As much as I feel we are heading in the right direction, there is still work to do. As my eldest daughter enters the workforce in just over 10 years’ time, my hope is that she believes our generation tried its best to address this issue.
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