Women on Board - Bureau de la Fondation au Liban
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While there is data on the percentage of women on boards in the Arab Middle East, which has proven to be low with 0.1% in Saudi Arabia to 1.8% in Oman, there is no data on the number of women on boards in Lebanon. We have been seeing several efforts being carried out over the past period in Lebanon, for addressing the gap in knowledge around this topic and advocating for more women in the boardroom.
Research has demonstrated that gender diversity on corporate boards brings a broad set of business benefits, including improved financial performance and shareholder value, increased customer and employee satisfaction, rising investor confidence, and greater market knowledge and reputation. Women directors bring a rich and diverse perspective to boardrooms, helping companies to evolve their strategic thought and direction. This results in better decisions and improved board dynamics, increased employee satisfaction and retention, a competitive advantage for attracting young female talent, and a tendency towards greater risk-aversion.
The Lebanese League for Women in Business (LLWB) launched the Women on Boards (WOB) 2030 initiative in 2016, advocating for 30% women on boards of companies and organizations by 2030. LLWB has been working with private sector companies, public sector entities, academic institutes, and international organizations to achieve this objective.
In order to support women in reaching board level positions in private sector companies and to better understand companies' gender policies, the LLWB partnered with the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) to launch a 3-month pilot phase as part of the Women on Board initiative. The pilot phase has three main objectives:
1) Conducting an assessment in private companies on their gender policies and practices to obtain gender equality and on the status of the women on board
2) Conducting a focus group/ roundtable discussion with the companies
3) Developing a report on recommendations and action plans to move forward.
The expected results of the Women on Board initiative are to gain a better understanding of companies' gender policies and practices, and to address the gender gaps in the selected companies. The assessment included a company-wide gender assessment survey, a desk review of existing policies and data from a gender perspective, and interviews with senior executives and employees. The focus group/roundtable discussion provided a platform for companies to discuss their findings and share best practices. The report developed as a result of the initiative will provide recommendations and action plans to move forward in addressing the issue of the underrepresentation of women on boards in Lebanon.