ABU DHABI, Sheikha Shamma bint Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan today announced the launch of ‘20 for 2020’, an innovative programme launched to drive gender balance at a board-level.

Twenty women will have the opportunity to partake in a year-long professional development course while they gain board-level experience. The overarching objective of ‘20 for 2020’ is to create gender equality by placing more women into board of director roles.

The programme aligns with the UAE’s leadership directive to empower women in the workplace, and more specifically with the Dubai Women Establishment’s objective to increase female representation on corporate boards to 20 percent within 2020.

The first partners of the ‘20 for 2020’ initiative was also confirmed today, which included the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, ADNOC, who signed a cooperation agreement with programme representatives.

The agreement will see ADNOC become the ‘Anchor Partner’ by selecting the first two participants of 20 For 2020. The remaining 18 places on the programme will be reserved for future partners, who will make their own selection.

Abu Dhabi Global Market, Dubai Future Foundation, Egon Zehnder, Fidelio Partners, INSEAD Corporate Governance Centre, Hawkamah Institute for Corporate Governance and Nasdaq Dubai were all named ‘Founding Knowledge Partners’.

The diverse range of partners will help deliver the different components of this unique programme, which include multiple days of board training, a year-long placement on a UAE-based company’s board, executive coaching and mentoring, round-table discussions, workshops providing finance and media training, plus an array of networking opportunities.

Sheikha Shamma bint Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, co-founder of ‘20 For 2020’, stated, "Under the guidance and through the efforts of the Gender Balance Council, the UAE has established itself as a leader and world model, in many respects, for gender equality. Our aim is to continue to build on this precedent with ‘20 for 2020’, which provides a practical solution for ambitious women to grow into leadership and board positions."

"This initiative," she explained, "is about creating a pathway which enables inclusiveness and creates opportunities."

"By placing more women into board positions we’re enriching the perspective of boardrooms across the UAE, and thus creating a work environment where business operations have an opportunity to perform optimally," Sheikha Shamma added. "By championing equality and ensuring balanced representation on boards, we can create a culture of diversity that is essential in combatting groupthink and driving competitiveness."

She went on to say, "We have seen great commitment from our Anchor Partner, ADNOC, and Knowledge Partners towards furthering gender equality in boardrooms across the country, which is not only representative of them as organisations but of the UAE as a whole. As our nation prepares to celebrate its Golden Jubilee and sets the blueprint for the next 50 years, my hope is that other organisations will follow suit in supporting the growth and development of female talent for decades to come."

For her part, Fatema Al Nuaimi, ADNOC LNG CEO and Chair of the ADNOC Gender Balance Committee, said, "ADNOC has an unwavering commitment in supporting females to grow, develop and excel in their careers, which is why we are proud to be an anchor partner of the ‘20 for 2020’ program. We believe that gender diversity in leadership positions contributes to innovative thinking that drives competitive advantage. As we seek to contribute towards our nation's prosperity, this programme will help the UAE build a pipeline of female talent in leadership positions."

‘20 For 2020’ was launched following a multitude of initiatives, mandates and conversations that have taken place surrounding the inclusiveness of boards across the UAE.

Source: Emirates New Agency