UAE’s Securities and Commodities Authority has said that UAE listed companies are required to have at least one female director on their board to promote gender equality in the workspace and encourage women to join the workforce.
The regulator’s CEO Obaid Saif Al Zaabi said, ‘We previously used to accept explanations if there wasn’t compliance, but now we are moving to make female representation compulsory. So now there must be at least one female member on the board of any listed company’
The regulator is yet to make it mandatory for listed companies to disclose equality and social governance metrics, but has recently encouraged companies to start reporting.
Within the Middle East and North Africa, the UAE has the highest level of women in the workforce with 57.5 %.
The study of Asia and the Middle East showed that, in terms of gender ratio at companies in the Middle East, the average company has 37 percent female workers, 28 percent female managers and 19 percent of the executive team made up of women.
In 2012, the UAE Cabinet made it compulsory for corporations and government agencies to include women on their boards of directors.
According to Aurora50, a UAE based advocacy group that works to increase female representation on boards, there are 110 listed companies in the UAE. Out of these 110 companies, only 28 have women on the board of directors, making up only 3.5% of all board positions.
The UAE’s central bank has also signed a memorandum of understanding with Aurora50 to work toward raising the number of women on the boards of both public and private companies in the country.