Women Returning to the Workforce Can Contribute $385bln

March 11, 2024 thehrobserver+hrobserver+womeneempowerment

The reentry of women into the workforce has the potential to contribute a combined GDP increase of US $385 billion across nine MENA nations, said PwC in a recent report.

These findings from a recent study conducted by PwC,  Navigating the path back: Women returners in MENA, the first in the “The case for diversity” series indicatesthat implementing flexible working arrangements could result in a total GDP increase of US$4.3 billion across the nine countries surveyed.

This study involving 1,200 women representing various countries including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Egypt, Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, and Oman revealed that approximately half of the women in the MENA region have opted for career pauses, often attributed to familial and caregiving obligations.

Notably, among women who have taken career breaks, a substantial 68% boast experience beyond entry-level positions. Specifically, 20% of the surveyed women paused their careers at the senior management and C-suite level

The women who return to the workplace face challenges such as employers’ assumptions that returning women lack experience or have diminished skills. Therefore, these women face rejection before being considered. 

Moreover, women who returned to work shared their frustrations at being “mommy tracked”, a term coined to describe how employers make assumptions about these women’s willingness to take up challenging roles or assignments, or that they are less committed to their jobs due to caregiving responsibilities. 

“Women returning to work face obstacles to career advancement as employers do not view career breaks favorably, which results in negative impact on earnings and career progression,” said Norma Taki, a Middle East inclusion and diversity leader, transaction services partner and consumer markets leader at PwC.

PwC explains through the findings that there is a direct correlation between community well-being and female workforce participation, a conviction that drives the belief in the importance of acknowledging every voice and empowering individuals to leverage their talents for the collective benefit. 

They explained through the findings that there is a demand for collaborative efforts and shared accountability from employers, governments, and broader societies.

Therefore, neglecting to reintegrate women into the workforce represents a significant loss of talent for organisations. 

“By facilitating the return of women to the workplace after a career break, organisations can improve their human capital, contributing to the region’s future success,” explains Taki. 


The HR Observer

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