Women in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) represent only 2 percent of board positions and 13 percent of chief executive officers (CEO), according to the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA). However, according to the Pearl Initiative, women in the GCC attach high importance to their careers, with 62 percent of women aspiring to a management role and 50 percent to a board position.
GCC technology companies are working to close the gender gap and increase corporate competitiveness to unlock nearly USD 100 trillion in global gross domestic product (GDP) by 2025.
Mary Ann Gallo, the chief communications officer of Hitachi Vantara, a wholly owned subsidiary of Hitachi, Ltd, reflected on this at The Marketing Society UAE’s Leadership Breakfast, held in Dubai.
The ACCA report indicates that promoting women into leadership roles could generate USD 12 trillion to the global annual GDP, or USD 96 trillion total by 2025. Companies with women in upper-level leadership perform better than average, the Brookings Institute reports.
Companies in the technology field worldwide are already seeing an increase of women in the workplace and in C-suite positions. There is also strong potential for women in the GCC, argues Hitachi Vantara, a global digital transformation enabler.
“Technology has been one of the first sectors to embrace women professionals, from coders to researchers to CEOs. By bringing more women into senior leadership roles, GCC companies can better reflect society and increase profitability and regional GDP growth,” commented Ms Gallo.
During her talk, she also shared the Hitachi Vantara example and her own experience in marrying purpose with brand building.
“A cornerstone of Hitachi Vantara’s brand values is social innovation – creating a safer, smarter and healthier future. Social innovation requires companies to incorporate different opinions and ways of thinking. Women in leadership roles at technology companies are uniquely positioned to take their own experiences and apply them to how their brands can create a better world in the digitally-connected future,” Ms Gallo said.
Commenting on Ms Gallo’s address, Marketing Society Middle East Chairman, Asad Rehman, the director of media at Unilever MENA said, “It is so difficult for someone to stand up and talk about a company’s transformation journey, without it sounding like a sales pitch, and Mary Ann did it so well. Her advice about building the culture at the heart of the company to be able to bring out the brand is so important but mostly overlooked. It’s almost like preparing an internal army troop to go out and fight the battle, and if they are not converted, who else can you convert outside.”
Another key takeaway from Ms Gallo’s address was putting purpose at the heart of the brand, while really making it meaningful, especially for the younger target audience. Mr Rehman added, “Simple things that we tend to forget, like a brand is not what you say it is, it is what your customers think it is, were some fantastic inputs from Mary.”