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Dubai’s Careem to hire 20,000 female drivers after admitting male bias

Dubai’s Careem to hire 20,000 female drivers after admitting male bias

The company said the ride-hailing industry had historically addressed only men when it came to driving opportunities

Dubai-based ride hailing service Careem has admitted a historic bias for attracting male drivers after announcing plans to recruit 20,000 women by 2020.

The company said the ride-hailing industry, which includes international rival Uber, had addressed males only when it came to driving opportunities and it would invest in reducing barriers to entry for women.

Careem currently has women drivers in a number of markets including the UAE, Egypt Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Lebanon, and Palestine, with Pakistan leading by numbers.

It has also registered more than 2,000 women in the Saudi cities of Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam as the kingdom prepares to lift a ban on women driving towards the end of June. A potential female-only training centre will add to the current female-only call centre it has in the kingdom.

Read: PwC says a fifth of women in Saudi will drive by 2020

“We realise that up until today we have focused our efforts predominantly on attracting and catering to male Captains,” said Careem CEO and co-founder Mudassir Sheikha.

“It’s time for us and the entire industry to wake up. Not only is there a moral obligation to do so, but there’s also a huge opportunity to grow our business around women and give them the economic opportunity to excel. Women are often the primary breadwinners and looking for alternative, flexible ways to support their families.”

A women committee at Careem is working on initiatives to improve the experiences of female drivers, including safety and security measures and flexible working for mothers.

Should the company succeed in its goal of recruiting 20,000 women drivers they will make up less than 5 per cent of its current workforce of 500,000 drivers across a footprint of nearly 100 Middle Eastern cities.

Rival Uber said separately it would invest SAR1m ($272,260) to make driving schools accessible to more women who are interested in learning how to drive in Saudi Arabia.

The pledge forms part of a two-year initiative announced by the company after conducting research that indicated 78 per cent of women were interested in obtaining a driving licence and 31 per cent were interested in driving as an earnings opportunity after the kingdom lifts the ban in June.

Uber currently has 150,000 male Saudi drivers.

The announcements were made on International Women’s Day, taking place on March 8.

Last month, Careem acquired online restaurant listing platform RoundMenu and said it would start trialling food delivery.

Read: Careem acquires online restaurant listing platform, to trial food delivery

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