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Stakeholder influence on business strategy, largely due to new forms of communication, is on the rise. In addition, younger generations will continue to drive developments because it is they – as customers, employees, and/or investors of the future – who will play a decisive role in corporate strategy development and execution.

Values and readiness drive long-term impact

For today’s senior executives, strong values, purposeful work and clear communication are  critical elements of leadership. Those who meet stakeholder expectations and adjust quickly to changes in the marketplace are most likely to succeed.

Female business leaders in the UAE are personally invested in the success of their companies and take stakeholder concerns and expectations seriously. Three-quarters (74%, which compares with 63% of predominantly male UAE CEOs) feel responsible for ensuring that corporate policies reflect their clients’ values in terms of ESG policies.

Underscoring this commitment, 44% of local female executives (compared with 38% of local CEOs) have no trouble linking their  organization’s growth objectives to a broader social purpose.  

Infographic clear purpose 1
Infographic clear purpose 2

   

 

For nearly all (94%) local female executives, providing a better customer experience and brand presence means creating seamless interaction between the middle, back and front office. One-third (34%) identify online vailability of products and services as the best way of ensuring customer satisfaction and bolstering medium-term growth.

Increasingly, decision making is being informed by hard data, with three-quarters (74%) stating they could potentially better understand their customers based on comprehensive data analysis.

Seamless connection between front, middle and back offices is key to the customer experience.

  

KPMG!
50 %

Strongly agree

KPMG!
44 %

Agree

KPMG!
6 %

Neither agree
nor disagree

Does your organization intend to undertake any of the following actions over the next three years to help in pursuing your growth objectives? (top three)

  

KPMG!
34 %

Make products and services available via an online platform provider

KPMG!
24 %

Collaborate with innovative start-ups

KPMG!
22 %

Increase investment in disruption detection and innovation processes

Infographic clear purpose 3
Infographic clear purpose 4
Infographic clear purpose 5

As digitalization continues to expand its impact, data protection and information security become more central to business operations. Sixty percent of UAE based female executives consider information security critical to the success of their companies. Three-quarters (76%) believe that in order to grow their company’s consumer base, they have a responsibility to secure their customers’ data.

Although UAE female leaders are more optimistic about the direction of the local economy and their company’s performance this year, expectations regarding medium term headcount are down on last year. In 2019, over half (56%) expect headcount to grow or remain the same in the medium term, compared with 89% in 2018.
 

How do you expect your organization’s headcount to change over the next three years?

  

KPMG!
4 %

Decrease
11–25%

KPMG!
24 %

Increase
less than 5%

KPMG!
8 %

Decrease
6–10%

KPMG!
16 %

Increase
between 6–10%

KPMG!
10 %

Decrease
less than 5%

KPMG!
14 %

Increase
between 11–25%

KPMG!
16 %

Stay
the same

KPMG!
8 %

Increase
more than 25%

With a focus on customers’ changing needs, the majority of the UAE’s female leaders see employees as a key factor to company success. Nearly half (46%) indicate the future of their business can only be secured by modernizing the workforce (i.e. adopting lean, intelligent automation skills on demand). Consequently, 68% (63% globally) are prioritizing investments in workforce development rather than new technologies. What is more, 58% (49% globally) believe the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) applications will create more jobs than it will eliminate.

A focus on employee training not only makes good business sense; it is also likely to contribute to a better work environment. In fact, half of UAE-based female executives (52%, 35% globally) believe empowering employees to pursue training and development opportunities is the most effective way to improve satisfaction. Almost half (48%) of respondents believe a positive team atmosphere is most effective in raising satisfaction, while an appreciative leadership style ranks third (40%).

Further underscoring their commitment to internal stakeholders, 58% view their personal leadership style as “strategic and team focused.”

Which of the following would you rate most effective in raising employee satisfaction? (top three)

  

KPMG!
52 %

Empowering for next career step

KPMG!
48 %

Positive team atmosphere

KPMG!
40 %

Appreciate leadership style

Infographic clear purpose chart 1

UAE-based female executives are more motivated to make a positive impact on the world than their global peers (50%, 32% globally). Given increasing consumer demand for socially conscious business practices, this may bode well for the bottom line.

The second most popular personal motivator among UAE women business leaders is enabling long-term business success (24%, 34% globally).

How would you describe your leadership style?

  

KPMG!
58 %

Strategic
(team-focused)

KPMG!
22 %

Democratic
(participation of all)

 

 

 

 

KPMG!
14 %

Agile
(project-focused)

KPMG!
6 %

Hierarchic
(leader focused)

Infographic clear purpose 6

I relish a challenge that forces me to grow in new ways and stretches the limits of my ingenuity. I come to work each day with the goal of learning, relearning and reinventing myself in order to not only keep up with, but thrive in, our rapidly changing world.

Preethi Sarma
Associate Partner | Audit | KPMG Lower