A lack of mentoring from female management towards junior female workers is preventing more women from reaching leadership positions, according to the CEO of event management company Naseba.
Countries, including the UAE, have pushed to bring more women into work and management to decrease unemployment and boost their economies.
A 2012 study by Credit Suisse, analysing nearly 2,400 companies, found that those with female board members outperformed those with no women on the board, the stocks of these companies also tended to perform better in falling markets.
But while male managers have traditionally taken mentoring roles to advance male staff, the same cannot always be said for female managers, Sophie Le Ray, organiser of the Women In Leadership (WIL) Economic Forum, told Gulf Business.
“Men naturally mentor juniors, the manager or CEO will pick up a few guys in his team that he will naturally groom into leadership positions. They will spend time together and they will do things that will build that relationship.”
“Women tend not to do it as much as men. They get to a senior position they get very busy, they have to take care of the family.”
She urged more women managers to take on the mentoring role, to increase the percentage of women in leadership roles.
“That’s a key a duty that women in leadership positions should take on.”
Le Ray expressed her dislike for female board quotas, which have been implemented in several European countries and the UAE, but admitted they worked.
The Emirates made it compulsory for all private and public sector organisations to have a female representative on their board at the end of 2012.
“Personally I don’t like the idea of a quota, I don’t like the idea of that affirmative action. But at the same time it works, so you’ve got to be pragmatic.”
“I don’t like the idea of forcing it, but maybe for a short period of time it pushes the message.”
She said it was important to make sure that women reaching board positions have the correct level or training and education “otherwise you completely defeat the purpose”.
The Naseba chief also argued that despite the patriarchal appearance of GCC societies, like Saudi Arabia, women were increasingly playing important roles as heads of family.
“You see more and more heads of families that are female and they do it with a subtle soft power approach, not with an in your face approach.”
“It’s very obvious in Saudi Arabia even more than here [UAE], such strong women that have key positions but don’t really advertise them, but it’s there.”