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Females tackling the challenges in the retail sector Saudi Arabia

Author: Najla Abdulrahman Al-Saud, Glowork


Khalid W Alkhudair Country Officer – AlWANE COO – Markets – KPMG Founder - Glowork

In 2011 the Ministry of Labor announced a historical law that was passed that stated that all lingerie shops throughout the Kingdom must have Saudi females working as their front office staff. This law was successfully implemented in January 2012. In July, phase two of the law which states all cosmetic stores must have Saudi women as their front office staff. This is followed by several other laws that will be implemented throughout the coming months and years which will help revolutionize the retail industry in the Kingdom and create thousands of opportunities for Saudi women. “Feminization” as I like to call it, is the new trend in Saudi and in my view will be what will help balance our gender equality in the workplace. The results of these laws won’t reap it’s full rewards in the short term, but what is for sure, His Excellency Adel Fakieh has written his name in the history books of labor reform. As it is a new sector for Saudi women to work in, there have been bottle necks, and this is what we hope to address from this survey. This research which is backed by ALWANE (Active Leaders for Women Advancement in the Near East), Glowork, KPMG and Harvey Nichols (Riyadh) will help put the retail sector under the microscope and illustrate the fallbacks of attracting Saudi women to work in the retail sector. The concept of working in the retail sector is relatively new in the Saudi culture and the Saudi market. Retail companies are struggling in attracting Saudi women to work “in the field of retail sales”. Therefore, we will look into what’s causing these bottle necks and what can be done to address them.

Methodology 1-Survey – Job Seekers: Sample size: 100 respondents

Sample criteria: Saudi citizens from all regions.

Gender: Female

Age: 18 - 36

Sampling Method: Respondents were chosen on SRS (Simple Random Sampling) basis.

Figure 1 shows that when people were asked about the retail sales concept, 42% accepts the Idea and 58% doesn’t accept the idea of women working in Retail Sales.


Figure 2 our respondents were asked the reasons they think are discouraging females from working in the retail sector.

Figure 2, shows that 31% of the respondents indicated that the lack of awareness in the retail sector, is one of the reasons keeping them from working in the retail industry. 18% answered that mall segregation is an issue in our society and most suggested in comment boxes that initially in department stores the sections that are dedicated for women should be completely separated and also that currently in department stores there isn’t dedicated break rooms and washrooms for women. Moreover, 13% answered that families won’t accept the idea of women working in the retail and that 12% of them with families cannot aord to work double shifts due to family commitments 10% of the ladies answered they want to work but the society traditions prevent them from working. Only 5% mentioned transportation as a problem when it comes to working in the retail industry.

Figure 3 shows that when our sample were asked if they were familiar with the retail industry 32% responded with their knowledge of the retail industry while the remaining 42% responded with no. This showcases that currently sales women in the retail industry are looked down upon and de-graded as the term “sales woman� in Saudi has been a phrase that has been traditionally viewed as older women who make streetside sales . This is an ideology that must be erased and education about the retail industry is needed.

Figure 4 shows that 35% believe that awareness campaigns will encourage the Saudi public to accept women working in the retail sector, while 33% encourage the idea of publicizing the laws and regulations that are clear for every citizen to understand. On the other hand, 19% indicated that getting a choice of working hours and choice of shifts will encourage females to work since two shifts are diďŹƒcult for some of our sample. Furthermore, 7% believe that conducting compulsory training to all job seekers who are willing to work will increase the percentage of women applying in retailing sectors.

Figure 5 shows that the majority of our sample size agree that awareness campaigns will encourage and attract Saudi women to work in the retail sector, 82% agreed with the idea. Again, this supports our hypothesis which is if we adapt awareness campaign and promote it correctly, we will beneďŹ t the Saudi citizens and enhance the Saudi life style and environment.

Figure 6 Shows that 37% of females prefer working in the cosmetic stores followed by 33% of women willing to work in the clothes stores, followed by Lingerie with 14% of respondents agreeing to work in that ďŹ eld. 8% of respondents said they don’t mind working in either optical or furniture stores

Interview: Interview with Mr. Siraj Mohammad Ahmed the HR and Personnel Manager in Harvey Nichols (Riyadh) We conducted an interview with Mr. Siraj Ahmed the HR and Personnel Manager at Harvey Nichols (Riyadh). He was pleased with the new laws placed by the Ministry of Labor as the law will allow more transparent transactions especially in the cosmetics industry where females are more at ease dealing with one another. He did insist throughout his meeting that adaptation will take time and there should be phases in rolling out the law with clear laws and procedures backed up by marketing campaigns for all stakeholders, the employers, jobseekers and the public. Also another worry was lack of training and lack of female trainers to deliver due to inexperience.


We found throughout our study that females are willing to work in the retail industry, but more awareness and education about the industry is needed. Success stories need to be told and it does not fall on the Ministry of Labor alone to conduct such awareness but also employers should be pro-active and set the example. We also found in our study that females were more attracted to working in cosmetics and it is due to the fact that employers approach them with vigorous training programs and place various challenges onto the jobseekers which is welcomed. An example is “L’Oreal” that sends all new employees to Rome for two weeks for intensive hands on training. Also the title “beautician” has helped source candidates very easily for the position as opposed to “sales executive”. Alwane Saudi Arabia alongside it’s partners in KPMG, Glowork and Harvey Nichols (Riyadh) have teamed up to create a campaign designed to enhance and raise awareness about working women in the retail sector, which will try tap into the ground roots of the problem faced by our society in education about the retail sector and showcase the success stories. Campaign goal: -To enhance and raise awareness about working women in the retail sector. Objectives: 1-Create slogan that is understandable among the Saudi public. 2-Tackle the soft spots of Saudi public by demonstrating the advantages of women working in the retail sector and the number of jobs available in the sector. 3-Reach the Saudi youth and embed the idea of women retail sales in their daily life. 4-Public Acceptance. 5-Employer Understanding

About Alwane: A newly established Regional Coalition of experienced and emerging leaders from 17 countries across the Middle East and North Africa has come together to work towards the advancement of women’s leadership in the Arab World. This Coalition includes men and women academics, activists, experts, entrepreneurs and youth committed to social change and gender equality. Working at both a national and regional level. This coalition aims to generate discourse around pressing challenges to women’s full participation in society, as well as share intraregional success stories. By working together, this coalition aims to raise awareness, create a platform for dialogue, advocate for change and influence national, regional and international policies effecting women’s participation in society

About Alwane Saudi Arabia: Alwane Saudi Arabia is formed by leaders, business men and women from various industries that have placed their mission and vision purely into the development of women in the labor market. Members include: Khalid Alkhudair – Country Officer (KPMG , Glowork) H.R.H Princess Reema bint Bandar – Mentor (President – Harvey Nichols (Riyadh)) Abdullah Al Fozan – Mentor (Chairman – KPMG) Jamal Al Mansour – Mentor (Co Founder – Glowork) H.H Princess Najla bint Abdulrahman – Mentee (Glowork) Rajaa Al Shareef – Mentee (Microsoft) Najla Al Kebsi – Mentee (Oracle) Nada Dardeer – Mentee (Riyad Bank)

Khalid Alkhudair Founder P.O.Box 75418 Riyadh 11578 Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Tel : +966 1 201 5533 Fax: +966 1 201 4388 Mobile: +966 550203300 Email : Najla bint Abdulrahman Marketing OďŹƒcer P.O.Box 75418 Riyadh 11578 Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Tel : +966 1 201 5533 Fax: +966 1 201 4388 Mobile: +966 5 661 19191 Email :

Females tackling the challenges in the retail sector  
Females tackling the challenges in the retail sector  

Increase awarness for Saudi women to work in the retail sector