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A sure-fire way to get more women into Middle East boardrooms

Reach Mentoring is the region's first non-profit organization focused on address the gender gap in leadership roles. A new partnership with the 30% Club GCC plans to establish a pipeline of role models.

Addressing gender equality in the corporate world cannot happen by chance. Like any other business issue, it requires a strategic and systematic approach.

Mentorship holds the key, according to widespread research. The positive impact of matching talented women with mentors include increased confidence and performance, greater job satisfaction, and crucially, the development of leadership skills.

Women with mentors are more likely to ask for pay rises, promotions and more responsibility than their peers; all of which are vital for career progression.

Reach Mentoring: a regional first

Reach Mentoring is the first non-profit organization dedicated to structured mentoring and leadership development for women professionals in the Middle East. Recently, the non-profit partnered with the 30% Club GCC; a regional chapter of a global business-led initiative for achieving better gender representation in senior leadership positions.

As part of the partnership, Reach Mentoring will deliver a structured C-suite level mentoring program. This will include mentorship from senior leaders in regional organizations, for 30% Club GCC members.

Since its launch in 2013, Reach has seen over 200 women at varying stages of their careers matched with mentors from all industry sectors. These professionals include both men and women, who complete a year-long programme.

An online platform algorithmically pairs mentors with mentees for compatibility. The system also includes objective setting and tracking, which is overseen by a professional trainer and project manager.

A partnership for the role model pipeline

The partnership with 30% Club GCC is to strengthen the pipeline of mentors for women already in senior positions.

According to Reach board member, Laudy Lahdo, organizations in the GCC have achieved important milestones in enabling women to reach leadership positions. However, there is still the need for greater diversity on boards. It’s a matter of unlocking the untapped value women in leadership can provide to the region’s economies.

“Reach and the 30% Club GCC will work together to offer women access to more C-suite leaders, to help them unlock their true potential through structured, professional support.”

The 30% Club grew out of London in 2010.Its vision is to campaign for greater representation of women on FTSE 100 boards. There are now 10 chapters across the world. The new GCC chapter launched in 2015.

A focus on the GCC

The 30% Club in the GCC is a volunteer effort by business leaders from across the Gulf region. It is led by a steering committee of prominent leaders from some of the most successful firms in the region. The goal is to champion better representation of women on boards and in senior-level positions.

“The organization’s focus is to accelerate the pace of change and support the growth of a healthy pipeline of talented and capable women that are ready to serve in senior positions across sectors,” says Raeda Al Sarayreh, on behalf of the 30% Club GCC.

“Our partnership with Reach enables us to provide practical, effective and valuable mentorship for our members, and work in tandem with an organization that has the same core objectives at heart. We believe the mutual benefits will be far-reaching.”

A key element of the program is to engage female leaders in positions of influence to serve as role models. This is critical to more than just the career advancement of women, says Reach’s Lahdo. It can also generate broader societal impacts on pay equity, she adds. “Changing workplace policies (is) for the mutual benefit of both men and women.” Ultimately, an inclusive workforce will attract a more diverse workforce.

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