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RIYADH: Nine out of 10 women working in Saudi Arabia say that the organizations they work for have policies in place to drive diversity, equity and inclusion.

This is according to a study by leading global management consultancy firm Kearney looking at factors affecting women in the workplace, including employer support of career ambitions, adoption of hybrid working, as well as diversity, equity and inclusion imperatives set by their organizations.

The Kearney Diversity, Equity and Inclusion survey reveals 8 out of 10 women feel that they get the support they need from their employers to reach their career goals.

About 51 percent of female employees in the Kingdom see themselves changing sectors or careers in the next 10 years, and 36 percent indicated that they would like to hold a leadership position.

Sixty percent would like their employers to provide them with training in emerging skills and trends such as ESG and data analytics to help them support their career ambitions.

Almost 48 percent would like employers to provide regular training to upskill in their current career choice.

Isabel Neiva, partner of leadership, change and organization at Kearney Middle East, said: “In the last decade, Saudi Arabia has shown remarkable commitment to bring more women into the workforce with reforms implemented to incentivize and protect women entering the labor market.

Isabel Neiva, partner of leadership, change and organization at Kearney Middle East.

“Increasing the participation of females in the workforce has delivered unmistakable results and fueled the country’s transformation. Encouraging women to play a more significant role in the workforce will aid in the Kingdom’s efforts toward economic diversification and ultimately making real progress toward Vision 2030.”

When looking at hybrid workplaces, 60 percent of respondents said that they have been provided with the flexibility to work from home or office by their employers.

Twenty-nine percent of respondents were offered hybrid working cultures but chose to work from the office, whereas 3 percent chose to only work from home.

A mere 7 percent of the organizations do not have a hybrid working structure.

Asked how hybrid working has helped equitable working opportunities, 84 percent respondents recorded higher levels of motivation, 85 percent productivity, 84 percent progression, 78 percent inclusion and 86 percent learning and development. 

However, 54 percent of women also expressed concern that hybrid working leads to missing out on key opportunities for career progression.

Despite this, respondents remained optimistic about the changing landscape of leadership roles, with 76 percent believing that new ways of working will have a positive impact on women entering the workforce.

When looking at policies that have a positive impact on removing barriers around diversity, equity and inclusion, 49 percent of women stressed that flexible working was a game-changer.

“Considerable progress has been made over the last few years in terms of gender diversity and equal opportunities,” Neiva said.

“However, there are many women who still find that they must work harder and provide more evidence of their competence than men. To ensure that women in the workforce are given the means and support to reach their full potential, it is key for organizations to provide regular training to upskill their female employees and have policies in place to drive diversity and inclusion and eradicate bias,” she said. 

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