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News and analysis often don’t want to be “pushy” but “the best jobs in Doha are never officially advertised, they just go to friends of friends”. She says employers should stop believing that married women only work because they have nothing better to do, which leads them to offer minimal salary packages: “The work should be valued and compensated fairly. It would really help if concepts like job sharing and part-time work were officially introduced in Qatar.” Siemens Qatar, the local offshoot of the international engineering business, shows the potential for businesses to change the way they recruit and retain women. Livia Freudl, head of HR, says the business began to put a focus on gender diversity about 12 months ago and has since increased the number of women in its ranks from 9 to 11.5 per cent. Around 70 per cent of Siemens’ roles require an engineering background, which can make it difficult to find suitably qualified females: “It is still important that we hire the best person for the job, but we make a lot of effort to find potential female candidates for all our openings, even if they do not apply.” Freudl adds that women tend to think that they must fit all the requirements before even applying for a job, and that part-time work and fixed hours are rare when starting out. “Women sometimes shy away to avoid a conflict with their family commitments,” she says. “Employers might then also have the tendency to take the easy solution with a male candidate.” But Freudl has found that supporting female employees with caring responsibilities pays dividends: “We get a tremendous amount of loyalty, hard work and great performance back, which is often worth more than what it cost us to allow some flexibility during challenging times.” Zeitler says even male-dominated sectors such as construction are working to attract more female talent. And in Qatar at least, things are slowly changing. “I think there is too much force behind women’s empowerment already to stop it now,” she adds. “I’m sure another surge will come soon and, as public acceptance is much higher than it was only 10 years ago, that next surge will surely bring about significant changes again.” Anderson agrees that the situation for women is improving all the time. “The pace is very slow, way too slow for me, but I see women succeeding everywhere and men being a part of enabling that success.”

News in numbers

50% Proportion of Emiratis in the UAE workforce who say they work in an administrative role

34% Year-on-year rise in hiring intentions in the GCC healthcare industry

56% Level of 18- to 34-yearolds in the UAE who say they received work experience during their time at college or university

43% Proportion of workers across the Gulf region who feel they are overqualified for their role SOURCES: OXFORD STRATEGIC CONSULTING, MONSTER EMPLOYMENT INDEX, YOUGOV, BAYT.COM


Sara Khoja, partner at Clyde & Co in Dubai, gives an overview of legislation and case law HR professionals should be aware of

Saudi Arabia introduces employment regulations The Saudi authorities have issued a range of new penalties relating to breaches of employment law, designed to strengthen the country’s recent reforms in this area. A total of 61 fines cover transgressions such as failing to issue contracts, not maintaining personnel records, retaining employees’ passports and employing male staff in roles reserved for women, such as working in lingerie stores. The new regulations are backed by further amendments to the ‘Ajeer’ system, which covers the documentation of temporary foreign employees. Most significantly, issues that sometimes prevented expat employees from working at clients’ sites in Saudi Arabia have been cleared up under a new ‘B2B’ scheme, which grants them temporary work notices

and extends secondment notices to expats working on secondment, though only in the pharmaceutical and construction sectors. The Ajeer system is expected to be extended to cover other sectors and circumstances in the coming years.

Qatar’s new immigration law to clarify expat rules A new immigration law set to be implemented in Qatar by the end of 2016 may significantly change the balance of power between businesses and their expat employees, a current flashpoint affecting many companies. The law will add clarity to the system of entry and exit visas: notably, it makes it clear that retaining an employee’s passport is not allowed without their prior consent, and even then must be released on appeal. continued overleaf People Management Middle East


People Management Middle East: Issue 2  

The CIPD magazine for the Middle East