The GCC region has witnessed a substantial rise in the role of women in the banking and financial services sector. People I knew were surprised when I personally, as a health information management graduate, opted to pursue a career in business management. After joining Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) as a Quality Management Specialist, and then moving on to the position of Business Excellence Manager, I found myself drawn to the inner workings of the banking and financial services sphere.
What appealed to me the most, were the plentiful opportunities open to women of all backgrounds, and the challenging roles that enabled sustained growth and prosperity. Moreover, as a UAE national, I felt a strong calling to serve my country and make a meaningful contribution to growing the talent pool in this sector – particularly for Emirati women.
In my current role as director of training at the Emirates Institute for Banking and Financial Studies (EIBFS), it is rewarding to facilitate the growth of female trainees and employees within our sector. According to a recent study by Oxford Strategic Consulting, females are significantly more likely than males to want to work in the banking and financial services sector – a ratio of 29 per cent versus 11 per cent. Closer analysis suggests that the employment preferences of women in the UAE coincide with what the sector has to offer, most notably the female-friendly organisational culture and acceptance of female cultural values that are prevalent in this sphere.
In addition, women show a considerably higher tendency to opt for generous benefit packages (63 per cent versus 51 per cent) and opportunities for fast promotion (17 per cent versus nine per cent) than their male counterparts.
Governments in the GCC region have amplified their efforts to address the existing challenges faced by female entrepreneurs and have introduced a range of empowerment measures across the political, business, and educational arenas. These include market regulator improvements, lower entry levels and exit barriers, increased representation in chambers of commerce, and a greater focus on female literacy. In the last decade, the female literacy rate in the GCC region has been on a par with or above most developing nations across the world: nearly 100 per cent among 15- to 24-year-olds and almost 90 per cent among 25- to 64-year-old women.
From another viewpoint, improvement in social conditions, driven by changing demographics and patterns in gender diversity in the private sector, is a key factor motivating women to work. As a result, the GCC region has witnessed an increase in workforce participation of adult females over the age of 25 with a 6.8 per cent compound annual growth rate in the last decade.
Women in society have taken extraordinary measures to address the issues of balance between family obligations and work commitments. The Dubai Women’s Establishment has launched a variety of successful initiatives aimed at creating an environment where women have the opportunity to build their careers without compromising on their role as mothers. The Central Bank of the UAE has served as a strong facilitator encouraging greater participation of UAE nationals in the banking sector by allocating quotas for Emirati employees across banks in the country. More recently, the bank has moved beyond the quota system to a point-based system that aims to enhance the quality of jobs available to Emirati nationals, in order to allow them to grow within their organisations.
Banks across the country should accumulate a certain number of points based on the quality of positions given to UAE nationals – the higher the position, the more points the bank gets. Considering the UAE female population’s preference for challenging roles and job growth, the new system goes a long way towards attracting more women to the banking industry.
Given its fundamental role in the country’s drive to create a sustainable economic future and diversify its economy away from oil, banking is a strategic sector for the UAE. While oil-exporting countries continue to encounter significant challenges due to falling oil prices and global economic instability, our government has set the pace for national economic growth through its various initiatives aimed to enhance employment in the UAE.
With a wide variety of courses and training programmes on offer, EIBFS is ideally positioned to spearhead this effort. This year-to-date, the institute has delivered a total of 833 vocational training and educational programmes – more than half of which drew the participation of UAE nationals.
We must keep in mind that the banking and financial services sector fluctuates under the influence of unforeseeable economic issues. As thought leaders of our nation, we should prepare employees to tackle any present and future challenges that our country may face. For this reason, EIBFS constantly develops and updates its training portfolio to meet industry demands, including the introduction of courses addressing the issue of corporate restructuring.
July 17, 2017
First Cohort of Students Graduates from Emirates Institute for Banking and Financial Studies’ Banking Insurance Program
May 3, 2016
Two bankers (from Emirates NBD and Emirates Islamic Bank) selected for a Leadership Training Programme at the University of Virginia’s Darden Business School were interviewed by Dubai TV in a program called Dubai Haze Al Sabah
January 10, 2016
The ‘Certificate in Islamic Banking and Finance’ (CIBF) Jointly issued by EIBFS and IBFIM aims to develop qualified personnel with deep and strong knowledge of Islamic banking products and operations