(MENAFN Press) The Pearl Initiative, the GCC-based, private sector-led, not-for-profit organisation developed in collaboration with the United Nations Office for Partnerships to promote best business practices in the Gulf Region, today signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Sharjah Business Women Council (SBWC) to focus on programmes that encourage women to progress into Executive positions and board members of companies in the Region.
The agreement was signed during a ceremony held at the American University of Sharjah by and between H.E. Ameera Abdelrahim Binkaram, Chairperson of the Sharjah Business Women Council and Imelda Dunlop, Executive Director of the Pearl Initiative, in the presence of Badr Jafar, Founder of the Pearl Initiative and Managing Director of the Crescent Group and Eman Al Mahmoud, Secretary General of the Executive Board of Sharjah Business Women Council.
As a platform for change and development in corporate governance practices across the Gulf Region, the Pearl Initiative will work with SBWC to clearly define the business case for the advancement of women in senior management and Board positions in organisations across the GCC. The overall aim of the agreement is to develop a first-of-a-kind programme that will inform business leaders on practical methods of attracting, retaining and developing women into senior positions in the UAE and GCC region, and thereby create a larger pool of Board ready women. The agreement will enable both organisations to develop insight and increase dialogue among business leaders, academia, the investment community and the media with a view to improving Board diversity, strategic decision making and competitiveness.
The first project this agreement will facilitate is a major survey of women in senior management and leadership positions within the Gulf Region to examine the processes and procedures that enabled them to reach senior levels in their organisations so these steps can be developed into a framework for assisting career development for women.
Commenting on the signing of the agreement, Imelda Dunlop, Executive Director, of the Pearl Initiative, said: "The signing of this agreement represents an important step in helping the Pearl Initiative build and raise awareness of the business benefits of the advancement of women in decision-making positions. In doing this we will be able to improve the dialogue needed to create an environment where women are fundamental to the sustainable success of the Private Sector."
"With a focus on preparing the next generation of leaders on the importance of integrity and ethics, we aim to ensure the next generation of women leaders are inspired to pursue the career paths they choose to follow free of glass ceilings." Dunlop added.
Speaking about the agreement H.E. Ameera Abdelrahim Binkaram, Chairperson of Sharjah Business Women Council said: "Our primary goal at the Sharjah Business Women Council is to encourage women to excel in the field of business and to facilitate the healthy growth of women-owned businesses. To this end collaboration among the stakeholders in the business community is essential. We are therefore extremely pleased to be entering into this agreement with the Pearl Initiative and look forward to seeing the business women in our region reap the rewards of our cooperative efforts.
"Both parties will immediately start work on a joint programme to develop important regional insight and foster communication between business leaders."
Since 2010, the Pearl Initiative has been driving extensive programmes that positively influence business thinking in all 6 countries of the GCC, and produces regionally-focused research-based insight reports and corporate good practice case studies. Programmes for 2014 include those on Women in Business, Corporate Governance in Family Firms and Anti-Corruption. The Pearl Initiative also convenes business, government and civil society leaders at the highest levels and at the operational levels, in dialogue forums and capability-building seminars.
The Sharjah Business Women Council was established by virtue of Amiri Decree by His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, UAE Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, to support the integration of women in all economic activities. The (SBWC) is being supported by Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Wife of the Ruler of Sharjah, Chairperson of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs and Honorary Chairperson of the (SBWC).
The council aims to encourage women's contribution in the development process in the UAE in general and Sharjah in particular. It offers women wider fields to develop their personal skills, opportunities for more creativity and improvement of performance in their professional and business endeavours. Moreover; the Council contributes in developing women-owned businesses through guidelines by economic and finance experts.