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Female leaders are addressing diversity challenges head-on

The business environment for women business leaders in the UAE has improved in recent years. In addition, survey results indicate that gender equality is becoming the norm in many families. Forty-four percent (56% globally) say that they are on an equal footing with their partner regarding work and family life.

There are, however, still areas where more action is desirable. For example, although eight in ten (80%) of women in our survey have a career development plan and 52% expect to make their next career move within their current company, about one-third assume they will have to  change companies to advance.

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Do you expect to be promoted by your company?


52 %


14 %

I don’t know yet

34 %

No, I will need to
change companies

There also are obstacles regarding pay equity. Only a quarter (26%) of local female leaders know the salary structure in their company – a significantly smaller proportion than among female leaders globally (41%). Twenty-six percent of UAE-based female executives say they have not asked to see their company’s salary structure, and 42% state that they have no transparency regarding this information.

Have you or do you currently encounter gender bias or stereotyping in your day-to-day work?


44 %

None of the above

32 %

Overall Behaviour

28 %


20 %


10 %

Sexual Harassment



In terms of gender parity and equal opportunity, the UAE paints a positive picture. Just under half (44%) of senior female business women have not experienced any gender stereotyping or bias; this is slightly more than their global counterparts (42%). On the other hand, some indicate they have had to deal with one or more forms of gender stereotyping: general behavior (32%), communication (28%) or professional qualifications (20%).

Overall, over a third (36%) of UAE-based female leaders have received more support from men than women during their careers (52% globally), while 46% report receiving equal support from men and women (35% globally), and 16% say they had more support from women than men (10% globally).

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An inclusive and diverse workplace is one that empowers women to transcend entrenched biases and enables them to partake, on an equitable basis, in decision-making and the formulation of the organization’s strategy.

Katerina Pagoni
Head of Anti-Money Laundering and Sanctions
KPMG Lower Gulf Limited

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