Aurora50 Welcomes Inaugural Pathway20 Cohort At Official Programme Launch

1 November 2020, Abu Dhabi: Aurora50, a social enterprise co-founded by Sheikha Shamma bint Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan and Diana Wilde, today launched the first programme cycle of the Pathway20 initiative, formerly ‘20 for 2020 initiative’, featuring 10 competent professional women as part of the first cohort.

At a virtual ceremony held earlier today, the cohort were officially welcomed by Aurora50 co-founders and senior representatives from Anchor Partner ADNOC; Founding Partner Mubadala Investment Company and Corporate Partners First Abu Dhabi Bank and Abu Dhabi Ports.

Commenting on the inaugural cohort, Sheikha Shamma bint Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan said: “The UAE’s leadership has established a world-class model for gender-equality and inclusiveness. Inspired by this precedent, we launched the Pathway20 initiative to accelerate opportunities for meritorious and deserving women to be able to join boards. Women currently make up only 3.5% of the directors on the boards of listed companies in the UAE, and with this initiative and first cohort, we are one step closer to increasing board-level gender diversity while also creating and bolstering a female talent pipeline for future independent director appointments. ”

The cohort participant selection involved a rigorous evaluation process, including psychometric assessments and interviews conducted by advisory firm Egon Zehnder followed by a careful board-matching exercise.

Fatema Al Nuaimi, CEO, ADNOC LNG and Chair of the ADNOC Gender Balance Council stated:  “ADNOC is proud to be the Anchor Partner for the Pathway20 initiative as we recognize the value and benefit of gender balance in the workplace.  Our priority is to develop UAE national talent and in recent years, we have taken a number of steps to promote and to increase gender balance across our company including doubling the number of women representatives on ADNOC’s boards.  We are excited to see how this initiative will foster and develop talent, as well as providing a pipeline of up and coming female leaders for our nation.”

Ahmed Al Mazrouei, Senior Adviser, Mubadala Investment Company, added:  “As a founding partner, we strongly believe in the importance of representation, inclusivity and diversity. We extend our gratitude to Sheikha Shamma bint Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan and congratulate all the partners for this initiative which supports the UAE’s goals on gender balance, and we are excited to welcome the first cohort of talented women.”

The inaugural cohort comprises of participants carefully selected from candidates nominated by board members, executive search firms and Pathway20 partners including ADNOC, Mubadala Investment Company, First Abu Dhabi Bank, Abu Dhabi Ports and other leading organisations.

70% of companies in the UAE do not have a female board member, and the Pathway20 initiative is developing competent and meritorious women into board-ready women, thus creating a readily accessible talent pipeline for forthcoming board director positions.

Over the forthcoming months, the cohort will participate in a unique programme including board-specific workshops and trainings delivered by knowledge partners of the Pathway20 initiative. Additionally, the cohort will assume board director positions at several prominent organisations, providing them with the practical experience of board responsibilities and duties.

Sheikha Shamma bint Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan concluded, “The value that diversity brings has been well documented and the business case for gender-equity is stronger than every before. As organisations look to plan their next financial year, I urge them to prioritise the development of female talent, and pave the way for positive change while also building business resilience ”

The next cohort of the Pathway20 initiative will commence in Q1 2021, and interested organisations and potential candidates are invited to express their interest to Aurora50.