UAE. Many companies in the region are engaging women in senior leadership positions as a key priority, particularly following the revelation that, on a global level, companies are failing their senior-level women.
Roughly three-quarters of those surveyed generated lower levels of employee engagement among female senior managers than among their male counterparts, according to a new report by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG). The report, titled The Rewards of an Engaged Female Workforce, is being released today.
The report examines factors that contribute to engagement levels for more than 345,000 male and female employees at companies worldwide and calculates overall engagement scores. The data shows that in companies in the bottom three quartiles of overall engagement scores, the scores of women increase by just 4% from non-manager to senior manager levels, while men’s scores increase by a full 12%. In addition, the report found significant gender-based gaps in a number of areas that are critical to engagement, including mentorship, appreciation, and cooperation with colleagues.
Based on BCG interviews, senior representatives from GCC companies are becoming more and more aware of the importance of having an engaged pool of senior women. During the interviews c-suite spokespersons stated that the involvement of women in senior leadership positions is a key priority. It helps ensure the success of the company. Additionally, executives were of the opinion that it is the senior leaders themselves who should raise awareness and act as role models to ensure that women continue to be engaged.
In the GCC in particular, mentoring is perceived as a way to overcome social pressures that could prevent women becoming more engaged in senior roles. Internal mentoring for and by senior leaders has proven effective. In the GCC, there is still a belief amongst some women that engagement in leadership roles is incompatible with social and family obligations, and career decisions are often taken within the family; mentoring helps overcome this phenomenon.
Engagement Scores for Bottom Three Quartiles of Companies
The study found that companies in the top 25% of overall engagement scores had virtually no engagement gap between senior female managers (4.5) and senior male managers (4.4). Overall engagement scores range from 1 (very dissatisfied) to 5 (very satisfied).
“It is evident in our region that when companies engage their employees, both men and women benefit equally,” says Leila Hoteit, a Partner and Managing Director at BCG Middle East. “Moreover, creating a positive workplace culture for women, particularly those in senior roles, has a resoundingly positive effect on employees in general.”
Engagement Gap Emerges with Seniority
The report shows that the gender gap in engagement emerges as employees become more senior. Among junior employees in companies in the bottom three quartiles of engagement scores, women and men demonstrate similar levels of engagement: 3.8 for female non-managers and 3.7 for male non-managers. At the manager level, women (3.8) are nearly identical to men (3.9) in those companies. The biggest gap occurs at the senior-manager level.
“Research demonstrates that engagement ties to overall performance, and as such the engagement gap for senior women is an important one to consider,” says Leila Hoteit, a Partner and Managing Director at BCG Middle East. “It is also one which we can address, as shown by the performance of the top quartile of companies. Management teams that want to provide the best environment for their most senior women need to make it a priority and begin working to address the issue today.”
In the GCC region, one way that companies are bolstering engagement is through social media. With a penetration that is among the highest in the world, social media has provided massive opportunities for women to share their stories and successes and encourage others to do the same. It is a successful platform for women to connect, get support to set up their own businesses, build a personal network and, in the long run, to be more engaged.
The report continue to describes steps necessary and those taken by particular companies to address the gender gap in engagement, such as innovative approaches to developing apprenticeship programs, initiatives to foster interoffice cooperation, and making sponsorship a formal part of senior leaders’ review process.
To download a copy of the report, please go to www.bcgperspectives.com.
Photo Caption: Leila Hoteit, a Partner and Managing Director at BCG Middle East
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