Women in the UAE Believe They Have Same Level of Workplace Equality as Their Western Counterparts
December 18th, 2016, Bridget Gleeson

Women in the UAE Believe They Have Same Level of Workplace Equality as Their Western Counterparts

A Majority of Female Respondents in the UAE Believe That They Have the Same Level of Workplace Equality as Their Counterparts in the West

Nearly half of female respondents in the UAE believe that their chance of being promoted is entirely dependent on their performance and not their gender, according to a Bayt.com and YouGov survey

Gender equality at work has always been a hot topic for research and debate around the globe. Today, two thirds (65%) of female respondents in the UAE report that women in their country have reached the same level of workplace equality as compared to working women in western countries, according to the Working Women in the Middle East and North Africa survey released by Bayt.com, the Middle East’s number one job site, and YouGov, a leading market research agency.

This survey measures the perceptions of women in the region when it comes to equality at work, motivations for employment, challenges faced at work, as well as career and life ambitions. The survey revealed that more than half (55%) of respondents in the UAE feel that job offers are based on experience and qualifications and gender plays no role in the decision. In fact, four in ten (39%) respondents have never been asked questions that made them feel discriminated against as women during a job interview.

When it comes to being employed in the UAE, more than nine in ten (94%) women surveyed stated that they have some familiarity with the labor laws of their country of residence, with nearly half (44%) claiming to be very familiar. Of those familiar with the labor laws, more than three quarters (78%) stated that they are fair to women, at least to some extent.

The mixed gender environment in the UAE

The far majority (83%) of respondents in the UAE reported having a mix of men and women working together in the same workplace. Of the women who work in mixed-gender environments, nearly nine in ten (87%) are comfortable with it, with more than half (57%) reporting that they are extremely comfortable. Further, 40% of respondents report that they are not treated less favorably or discriminated against as women in the workplace.

Eight in ten (80%) respondents in the MENA region who work in a mixed-gender environment report having a male manager at their current organization. Though when it comes to preferences, two thirds (69%) of respondents have no preference on the gender of their manager.

The treatment of men vs. women in the workplace

Although 65% of women surveyed in the UAE believe that all employees work equal hours, 43% believe they have the same opportunities for promotions and career growth, and 26% believe they receive the same salaries.

In the region, a majority (59%) of respondents believe that appreciation at the workplace is based on performance alone, without regard to gender. In the UAE, nearly half (43%) of women believe that their chance of being promoted depends entirely on job performance and gender plays no role.

“Women are fundamental players in building and shaping the region’s economies and contributing to the success of every business. The survey results show a very positive direction towards gender balance in the region, particularly when it comes to opportunities for promotion,” explains Suha Mardelli Haroun, Regional Sales Director at Bayt.com. “At Bayt.com, we are very proud of our equal opportunity practices. Women are employed at Bayt.com across all roles and departments, including technology, marketing, human resources, finance, sales, and leadership.. Our top management and executive board has a healthy gender ratio as well. In fact, women occupy a remarkable number of management positions in Bayt.com. Among the positions occupied by women are: Chief Marketing Officer; Regional HR Director; Regional Business Development Director; Head of Ad Sales; UAE Country Manager; International Unit Manager; Senior Technical Consultant; and many more. Our disciplined system of regular monthly, quarterly and annual appraisals is designed to give equal weighting to value adherence as to actual performance. This ensures that there is always place for great people, regardless of their gender, to climb up the ladder at Bayt.com.”

Challenges faced by women in the workplace

The top three challenges that women in the region face in their work environment are less opportunity for job promotions (51%), stressful and demanding work environment (39%), and a lack of sufficient job training and coaching (35%).

In the UAE, 25% of respondents believe that their future marriage plans will affect their career to some extent. Similarly, across the region, on third (33%) of respondents believe that their marital life has been affected positively by their career choices.

Benefits for women in the workplace

According to respondents in the MENA, the top five drivers of happiness in their life are having a successful career (50%), maintaining good health (43%), traveling and visiting other countries (37%), spending time with their family (31%), and making money (29%). The top three reasons women seek employment in the MENA region are to become financially independent (57%), to broaden their perspectives on life (50%), and to be able to support their household (49%).

The top three benefits most important for working women in the region are a higher salary (57%), opportunities for long-term career growth (34%), and flexible hours (30%); and in the UAE, one fifth (21%) of women claim that their employer provides some level of special benefits for women employees.

“The opinions gauged by this survey provide an important outlook into the provisions and services employers currently offer their employees in the workplace – while also considering gender balance as a whole. Moreover, this survey also delves into what employers could be doing to further improve the workplace for their female employees – especially those that balance their work with a family,” said Arleen Gonsalves, Associate Research Manager, YouGov.

Data for the “Working Women in the Middle East and North Africa” survey was collected online from November 6 to 22, 2016, with 888 female respondents living in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria.