Time to break the bias
Why gender diversity is more important than ever
Written by Siemens Energy Middle East and UAE MD, Dietmar Siersdorfer
Amid the conflict in the Ukraine and the tragic suffering being felt around the world, today marks International Women’s Day. In the shadow of a terrible and unjustified war all other topics fade into the background. Without peace and humanity there is no foundation on which to build a better future, whether gender equality, environmental sustainability, or energy transition.
March 8 marks a major and commonly unifying date on the calendar - recognizing the role of women. Especially today, we must recognize and appreciate the vital role that women play, and work to improve equality, inclusion, and diversity. Too often women bear the greater burden in society and we have a long way to go to improve this situation.
A vision for equality
Our future at Siemens Energy is to build an open and diverse company where everyone, regardless of gender, age, ethnic background, sexual orientation, or disability, experiences equality and fairness of opportunity.
The fact is that equality, inclusion, and diversity in the working environment improves employee satisfaction, performance, creativity, and innovation. It’s not just politically correct and socially just, it’s a competitive advantage. As a company operating in around 90 countries across the world with 90,000 employees, it’s also a necessity.
In the Middle East alone, we have around 3,000 employees from diverse backgrounds, cultures, religions and ethnicities. But we still have challenges to overcome. One of the main areas we are focused on is improving our gender quota.
Women account for half of the population, but are sorely underrepresented in key areas of the workforce. In some areas they are over-represented in so-called feminine jobs eg secretaries.
Our goal is to increase the percentage of women in senior leadership positions to 25% by 2025 and 30% by 2030. Currently, we are maintaining the current rate of 25% female representation on the Executive Board (currently one woman of four Executive Board positions) and six women out of 20 Supervisory Board Members (30%).
But it’s not just at the top where we can make a positive impact. In our daily lives and at work, we can all contribute a lot to make our society more supportive, open, and tolerant. Allies provide the strongest and most consistent support for oppressed groups. A friend, colleague, partner, family member, or ally is someone who assists you.
I believe that building a society worth living in requires establishing an atmosphere that not only accepts but also values varied identities and lifestyles. We want an environment that provides all people with a life free of fear, one that is marked by equality of opportunity, one that expects the same of all of us, and one that bases its energy on this foundation.
Creating change leaders
Women and girls are effective and influential leaders and change-makers when it comes to climate adaptation and mitigation. They participate in and lead sustainability programs all across the world, resulting in more effective climate action. For example, the ‘Fridays for Future’ movements by Greta Thunberg, mobilizing whole generations and put climate change on the agenda of politicians and “normal” people. We must ensure that there are enough women in middle management who are contenders for senior leadership positions, and that they have the same opportunities as men to get the job. Given that women make up half of the world's population, there's no reason why corporate leadership should not reflect this.
Our commitment to gender equality in the workplace is shown in our female employees, supervisors, executives, and board members, who all have an equal voice and are offered equal chances. Our new Managing Director for Siemens Energy in Egypt, Layla El Hares, is an excellent example of strong women in leadership roles who will propel our organization to greater heights. She is a well-respected leader with over 21 years of expertise in the energy sector, including oil and gas development and production. Layla is a well-known figure in the region and beyond and will be instrumental in improving our organization.
We believe that developing an educated mindset, capable of making decisions that benefit humanity and empower future generations of women, is the first step toward gender equality in the workplace. At Siemens Energy, we not only support our present female colleagues, but we also assist in the development of future female leaders. This is why we are financially assisting the Executive Leadership Program at the University Paris II Panthéon-Assas, where we will support ten Emirati women in gaining access to future leadership positions.
Within our company we offer four leadership development and pipeline programs, each aimed at a distinct stage of a leader's career. Our beliefs, attitudes, and Leadership Essentials are woven into every program. They are the bedrock upon which a strong and diverse leadership pipeline may be built.
Use today as the catalyst to act. Become an ally and be part of the change that we need in society.