Harvard Business Review Arabia – HBR Arabia; October 25, 2017
by Dr. Assem Safieddine and Leila Atwi
It is evident that the Arab countries ought to take action to improve the women representation rates on board of directors. But are they ready to introduce board quotas? And if they do, are they likely to succeed in meeting the targets?
Women have made significant advances in education, labour force participation, and political activism across the globe. Yet, their representation on corporate boards varies significantly across the globe and is still trivial in the Arab countries, despite evidence of their momentous contributions.
All the countries with more than 25% women board representation have adopted quota policies, except for Sweden. These countries are also ranked on the top of the glass ceiling index measuring gender equality. As a matter of fact, research shows that the countries that reached their quota targets shared some cultural, legal, and gender equality characteristics.
It is evident that the Arab countries ought to take action to improve the women representation rates. But are they ready to introduce board quotas? And if they do, are they likely to succeed in meeting the targets?
The article compares the status of the Arab countries today relative to a sample of quota countries at their respective time of policy introduction on several gender equality measures, including education, labor participation, leadership, political participation, among other initiatives.
It describes some of the international experiences and the factors that supported their success with the aim of highlighting potential pathways for the Arab countries.