Women in the UAE are ready to accept more responsibility to further their career, a global survey shows.The findings are part of external research titled The Path Forward, which was fielded by Accenture to gain insight into behaviours and attitudes regarding women’s careers.

At least 100 respondents participated in the survey in most countries, including the UAE. Altogether, 3,900 business executives from medium to large organisations across 31 countries took part in the survey. In the study, as much as 80% of the women surveyed in the UAE said they accepted more responsibility to further their career.

The survey was also the pave for a discussion during the Abu Dhabi International Women’s Day second edition of an eventthat engaged in a thought-provoking panel discussion a number of prominent women from across the region, belonging to different industries, media business and high education system. In its eight year, Accenture celebrated the International Women’s Day in more than 162 locations across 40 countries, with a focus on its new global women’s theme: Defining Success Your Way. Accenture’s research in the Middle East covers a wide range of employment-related topics:

The key findings of the research in the UAEshow that:

  • Most people (71% women and 70% men) stayed on at their jobs longer than they had intended to because of a flexible work arrangement.
  • During the last ten years women have made significant achievements and now there is a lot of excitement for the future. The middle east more than others, still points out gaps in terms for equality and state that women will “ be close” to men in the workplace but not totally equal in the coming ten years
  • As global trends UAE companies are investing with success in their female workforce by taking multiple initiatives that support women’s career advancements: continuous learning, work/life balance programs, participation in professional networks and right counseling/mentorship are the key initiatives
  • More than anywhere else in the world (80%vs. 58%) UAE women are willing to take more responsibility and new challenges to further advance in their career
  • When asked about the greatest barrier to their career advancement, respondents cited a lack of opportunity or a clear career path (40%) four times as often as they cited family responsibilities (11%). However, a good percentage (36%)say they have no impediments to career growth
  • Rewarding and work/life balance are the main factors that retain people. People in the UAE value the stability of their company/role and opportunity for advancement more than global peers
  • Nearly three quarters (74%) of professionals in the UAE proactively manage their careers.UAE men and women own their careers and actively ask for an increase in rewarding and promotion opportunity. This attitude has proved to be successful and is showing an increasing trend in the last two years.
  • More women than men (56% against 52%) in the UAE are dissatisfied with theirjobs, contrasting against global average where more men (59%) have expressed dissatisfaction than women (57%). However, only 8% of women who are not happy with their jobs are looking for new openings, while the figure is lesser at 6% for men.

“The survey reiterates Accenture’s commitment to the Middle East region as our tribute to the spirit and effort of women,” said Omar Boulos, Managing Director, Accenture Middle East. “It has successfully managed to portray the support and programs companies currently provide for their employees, particularly women, and helps identify what needs to be done to attract, develop and retainhigh-performing employees.”

“As Accenture Middle East, we have already triggered our process to employ Saudi young women professionals with outstanding education background and committed to a very interesting career in our management consulting core business,”Boulos added.

Cinzia Lovascio, Accenture Partner for Management Consulting, Talent and Organisation in the Middle East, said: Having a diverse workforce of people with different capabilities, cultures, perspectives and experience we take the widest possible view of inclusion and diversity.We value individual aspirations as unique and leverage on common core values.” If we refer to the survey results as above mentioned Cinzia says “in our Middle East practice, as everywhere in Accenture , meritocracy, equal rewarding, career and job opportunities are applied beyond gender and cultural differences and in this context, we profile global principles and rigor to local culture and regulations.

Adrian Lajtha, Accenture’s Chief Leadership Officer, said: “Despite current challenges, employees are still striving for success – and energised, engaged employees remain a competitive advantage. Since the majority of today’s professionals are not job hunting, leading companies must capitalise on this moment in time to equip their people with clearly defined career paths that include innovating training, leadership development and opportunities for advancement.”

The Accenture research examined a wide range of employment-related topics in UAE:

  • Current job situation: In the survey, 28% women and 26% men said they were looking for another opportunity outside their company. Interestingly, more women in the UAE than men (16% vs 6%) said they were planning to start their own business. UAE women are the most active in this path forward
  • Flexible work schedules:More than one-third (37%) of respondents reported having some type of flexible work schedule, and 35% of this group said they have used flexible work options for more than three years.
  • Slowed careers:When asked about factors that have slowed their careers, 49% of respondents cited the economic downturn, which started in 2008. More women than men (52% against 40%) agreed that the demands of career requirements have negatively affected the quality of their family life.
  • Work-life balance:about two-thirds (64%) of respondents reported having work-life balance most or all of the time Spouses:People work/life balance is achieved most of the time; however to achieve success, the vast majority (66%) of respondents with a spouse said that that have aa full-time support to look after to their children or even support from their extended families
  • Important attributes for career growth:Self confidence, soft skills and education/training were cited as the most important attributes to career growth (32%, 25% and 23% of respondents respectively).
  • Career advice: Books and training (38%), colleagues (32%), family and friends (31% each) were cited as sources of advice on career. As many as 88% said the gender of the person giving career advice did not matter to them. At the same time, most respondents said they are taking a variety of steps to actively manage their careers—including accepting a different role or responsibility (cited by 78% of respondents, working longer hours (49%), and receiving more education or training (44%).

The full global report on the research, The Path Forward, is available at www.accenture.com/pathforward

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