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Spotlight: UAE’s listed companies with 20% women on board

Silhouette of business people in a boardroom meeting. Image from rawpixel.com

Aurora50 recently announced that the UAE’s efforts to improve gender diversity had resulted in the number of women on listed UAE boards rising from 3.5 percent in 2020 to 8.9 percent in 2022.

It follows the implementation of a quota of one woman per listed UAE board by the Emirates Securities and Commodities Authority (SCA) in 2021.

This summer we released a research report, in collaboration with the Mohammed Bin Rashid School of Government (MBRSG) and sponsored by the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), listing the five steps to take to reach an independent board role. Now, we thought we’d take some time to drill further into the latest board data…

  • Some 24 companies on Dubai Financial Market (DFM) have women on their boards, exactly half of the 48 total companies listed on the exchange.
  • Meanwhile, 44 companies on Abu Dhabi Exchange (ADX) have women on their boards, nearly two-thirds of the total companies listed on the exchange (65.7 percent).
  • Women hold 29 board seats of the total 353 seats at companies listed on DFM (8.2 percent), and 48 of the 515 at ADX (9.3 percent).
  • Eight companies listed on DFM have reached 20 percent representation by women on their boards (16.7 percent of all companies listed on the exchange), while 11 companies listed on ADX have reached 20 percent (16.4 percent of all companies listed).

Aurora50’s theory of change is that by simultaneously building the pipeline of competent women and connecting them to current board directors and chairs, we will reduce the network gap between boards and talent and that we can reach a ratio of women holding 20 percent of UAE-listed board seats within a decade.

We are therefore proud to see that 19 UAE companies have already achieved 20 percent or higher representation by women on their boards.

[Related: Be seated: 11 UAE women board directors to know | Shining a light on the Gulf’s women board directors]

Table 1: Women on UAE listed boards, by exchange

DFMADXTotal UAE
No. companies4867115
No. companies that have women on board244468
% companies with women on board50.0%65.7%59.1%
Total no. board seats353515868
Total no. board seats held by women294877
% women on UAE listed boards8.2%9.3%8.9%
No. companies with 20% or more women on board81119
% all companies with 20% or more women16.7%16.4%16.5%

Source: Emirates Securities and Commodities Authority, May 2022

Table 2: All UAE listed companies with more than 20% women on board

CompanySymbolExchange% of women on board
AmanatAMANATDFM33%
Al Khazna Insurance CompanyAKICADX29%
Emirates Steel Arkan GroupEMSTEELADX29%
SHUAASHUAADFM29%
Ras Al Khaimah Company for White Cement & Construction MaterialsRAKWCTADX25%
Dubai Financial MarketDFMDFM22%
Methaq Takaful Insurance CompanyMETHAQADX22%
Apex GroupAPEXADX20%
Alpha Dhabi HoldingALPHADHABIADX20%
AMAN InsuranceAMANDFM20%
DuDUDFM20%
Emirates Driving CompanyDRIVEADX20%
Emirates Islamic BankDFM20%
International Holding CompanyIHCADX20%
Multiply GroupMULTIPLYADX20%
Orient InsuranceORIENTDFM20%
Orient UNB TakafulOUTFLDFM20%
Ras Al Khaimah Poultry and Feeding CompanyRAPCOADX20%
Ras Al Khaimah National Insurance CompanyRAKNICADX20%

Source: Emirates Securities and Commodities Authority, May 2022

What is Aurora50 doing for women on boards?

Aurora50’s vision is to achieve gender balance in the workplace, starting with the board. Its first initiative was to increase the number of women on boards in the UAE through the Pathway20 accelerator to help women board directors gain an independent board seat.

In that time, the UAE has introduced a quota for women on boards and three of our Pathway20 graduates have secured independent board director seats.

Aurora50 has now launched Gateway, to open the boardroom door to mid-level and senior executives in the region so they can proactively map their route to their first board position.

[Related: Looking for your first board role? Six tips to get you started | 14 ways a board seat will help your career | Five reasons why the UAE is right to set a board quota]

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