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Women on Boards: GWFD 2020 panel says momentum is growing

Women on Boards: GWFD 2020 panel says momentum is growing
  • Panel discussion at Economy Hub of Global Women’s Forum Dubai 2020 addressed the growing presence, positive impact and powerful role of women on boards
  • eBoard platform by DFM and DWE is streamlining application process for board positions at DFM-listed companies
  • One third of DFM-listed companies already has female representation on boards

Fahima Al Bastaki: DFM looking to further presence of women in line with the UAE’s women empowerment and gender balance strategy
Dr. Ashraf Gamal El Din: Board members must show they have the ability to offer a holistic view on strategy, an openness to network, self-confidence, and qualifications to be prepared
Vanessa Abernethy: Diversity on boards brings better bottom-line performance, and to diversify right now we need more women on boards

Dubai, UAE, 17 February 2020: Women’s growing presence and positive impact on boards are gaining momentum due to continued efforts to achieve gender equality. At the Economy Hub of Global Women’s Forum Dubai 2020, panellists discussing the powerful role women can play on company boards, said that numerous initiatives on a global level and in the UAE to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals – particular Number 5 on Gender Equality – have been pivotal in strengthening the presence of women on boards.

Speakers included Fahima Al Bastaki, Executive Vice President and Head of Business Development Division, Dubai Financial Market; Dr. Ashraf Gamal El Din, Chief Executive Officer, Hawkamah Institute for Corporate Governance; and Vanessa Abernethy, Committee Member of 100 Women in Finance, UAE Chapter.

International institutions are one of the main drivers behind the expansion of women’s presence on boards, as they are increasingly factoring in gender balance in their investment decisions. More than 2,300 investment management firms representing $86 trillion in assets under management, have pledged to integrate ESG factors (Environmental, Social and Governance) in their investment decisions by becoming signatories of the UN-backed Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI).

The panellists made reference to the UAE’s numerous initiatives launched in line with the leadership’s vison on women empowerment, as well as the productive collaboration of various entities to qualify women for board memberships

Within this context, the DFM is encouraging its listed companies to further attract superb cadres to its boards, considering the positive impact on board performance and strategic guidance of companies.

“Currently, one third of the DFM-listed companies has women board members and we are looking to further women presence in line with the UAE’s women empowerment and gender balance strategy, as well as the corporate governance requirements issued by the Securities and Commodities Authority (SCA),” said Fahima Bastaki, Executive Vice President and Head of Business Development Division, Dubai Financial Market.

“In 2019, the DFM launched, in cooperation with the Dubai Women Establishment (DWE), the first of its kind eBoard platform, a seamless online linkage between listed companies and UAE nationals looking to assume board memberships,” she added.

From his side, Dr. Ashraf Gamal El Din, Chief Executive Officer, Hawkamah Institute for Corporate Governance, explained that gender diversity on boards leads to better performance of boards and organisations. He also emphasised the importance of women being well prepared for board membership and how to approach companies to become board members.

From his side, Dr. Ashraf Gamal El Din, Chief Executive Officer, Hawkamah Institute for Corporate Governance, explained that gender diversity on boards leads to better performance of boards and organisations. He also emphasised the importance of women being well prepared for board membership and how to approach companies to become board members.

“The UAE is a diverse country with diverse cultures, so naturally people will offer different views and as a result, decisions will be sounder. Diversity on boards brings better bottom-line performance, and to diversify right now, we need more women on boards,” said Vanessa Abernethy, Committee Member of 100 Women in Finance, UAE Chapter.

She added: “One of the things that we as women are not very good at, is self-promotion. Yes, it takes time and energy to do things that raise your profile, but it’s crucial to engage – whether it’s networking, writing an article, or speaking at an event.”

The panellists agreed that the necessary expertise might vary from position to position, and that an understanding of best practices and corporate governance rules is helpful to join company boards and specialised board committees.

Public recognition of the powerful contribution of women on boards and the associated economic benefits, is part of how Global Women’s Forum Dubai 2020 aims to positively impact a better future for all. The Forum was organised by Dubai Women Establishment, under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, and Ruler of Dubai.

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