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05 December 2023

Revealed: What UAE women discuss at work


If you’re a male professional in the UAE and have been wondering what your women colleagues discuss among themselves at the water cooler or in their cubicles, here’s the answer.

Salary and benefits, workload, and work-life balance are the top three topics that UAE-based female professionals discuss the most with their colleagues, friends and family. That’s according to new research by Accenture, which undertook a survey of 4,100 male and female professionals in 32 countries.

Even though any HR manager worth her salt will tell you it isn’t wise to discuss your or your peer’s salaries with co-workers, 52 per cent of women professionals polled by Accenture admitted to discussing it, making it the most discussed issue by females in the workforce.

Discussions regarding workloads follow salary, with 42 per cent women professionals talking about it with their peers, friends and family members.

An equal percentage (42 per cent) admit to discussing work-life balance, according to the survey.

In addition, the Accenture research reveals that 90 per cent of working women in the UAE believe building their ‘career capital’ – those differentiated skills that define and advance their careers – is key to success in the workplace.

The research also found that professionals welcome change and are confident of their ability to succeed in the workplace. A vast majority (86 per cent) of women surveyed in the UAE say they are working to increase their career capital by actively pursuing opportunities for promotion and advancement, increasing their personal and professional networks and by mentoring and sponsoring others (cited by 58, 52 and 44 per cent, respectively).

Three in five women (62 per cent) believe knowledge or competency in a particular area contributes the most to career capital, followed by career longevity (54 per cent) and networking outside of their organisation (46 per cent).

Salary and benefits, workload and work-life balance are the three topics that UAE-based female professionals discuss the most with their colleagues, friends and family (cited by 52, 42, and 42 per cent, respectively).

Globally, the vast majority of female and male professionals surveyed (91 per cent) agree that the most successful employees will be those who can adapt to the changing workplace, and nearly as many (89 per cent) report that they thrive on or don’t mind change. At the same time, three out of four respondents (75 per cent) say they are equipped to succeed in the future.

“The focus on developing career capital helps engage and energise employees who will maintain a competitive advantage as they grow and reach their goals,” said Omar Boulos, Accenture’s Managing Director in the Middle East. “In this rapidly evolving business environment, leading companies will continue to sharpen and develop their peoples’ skills through innovative training and leadership development programmes that prepare them for the future.”

The research also generated global insights on a broad range of work-related topics, including pay raises and promotions. More than half (57 per cent) of all respondents have asked for or negotiated a pay raise, and three out of four (77 per cent) who have done so have received one.

Slightly less than half (44 per cent) have asked for a promotion, and more than two-thirds (68 per cent) who have done so received one.

Another issue that was a hot topic was that of working parents. More than 4 in 10 working parents (44 per cent, men; 42 per cent, women) would prefer to work, rather than stay at home, even if finances were not an issue.

The value of experience was the next hotly debated issue, with nearly three out of four (72 per cent) respondents reporting that experience is more important than education in their current jobs.

In addition, respondents explained their opinion about how their current skills helped or hindered their current roles. The top three contributions that respondents believe they bring to their jobs are efficiency in completing tasks, a strong work ethic and the ability to learn new things (56, 50 and 44 per cent, respectively).

Looking ahead, respondents believe the most marketable skills will be the ability to multi-task, speak more than one language, be a team player and navigate most computer applications (cited by 57, 54, 54 and 53 per cent, respectively).

Surprisingly, approximately half (48 per cent) of respondents reported they were satisfied in their current jobs. Of those not satisfied, feeling underpaid was the primary reason for dissatisfaction (cited by 37 per cent), followed by lack of opportunity for advancement (25 per cent).

Respondents from the 32 countries also made a number of predictions about women in the workforce, including:

• Women on boards: Nearly three-quarters of respondents (71 per cent) think the number of women on boards will increase by 2020

• Women at the top: Seven in 10 (70 per cent) say the number of women CEOs will increase by 2020; 15 per cent believe the increase will be significant

• Women in senior management: Nearly half (44 per cent) say their companies are preparing more women for senior management roles than they did last year

“This noteworthy optimism about the progression of women in the workplace is significant for both employers and employees,” said Nellie Borrero, Managing Director, Global Inclusion & Diversity at Accenture. “Attracting, advancing and retaining women depend on providing an environment and culture that develops leaders, empowers women and enables them to thrive.”

(Home page image courtesy Shutterstock)