GCC recruitment & partnerships

Governmental policies can be helpful to companies and non-profit organizations seeking to increase their recruitment of Saudis and to attract more women to the workforce.

In terms of recruitment, best practices in this regard can be gleaned from other Arab countries. Morocco adopted a gender-equality strategy in 2006 by means of a new labor code endorsing the principles of equality and non-discrimination in the workplace, which motivated organizations to recruit more women. Algeria and Oman provide equal pay for equal work by men and women, which has had a positive effect in attracting women to the workforce. Tunisia passed a law in 2008 providing more flexibility for women to balance their family and professional lives with the introduction of more flexible part-time work. (Source: ILO, Institutions and Policies for Equitable and Efficient Labor Market Governance in the Arab Region.)

To promote recruitment, partnerships can be formed between the government, companies, and non-profit organizations, and mutual policies can be developed. For example, with policy support from the state, companies can increase their acquisition of talent from among recent graduates of improved women’s colleges and vocational institutes. Media campaigns can also be implemented in a positive way to support government policies regarding equality in the workplace. Whatever the policies and strategies adopted, it is advisable that they be closely monitored and evaluated to incorporate the evolving requirements of the labor market.

In terms of training, it has already been stated that new employees often require extra training in basic skills, and some companies have provisions in place to close this gap and enhance corporate strategies through training partnerships, in-house training, and apprenticeships. The hotel group Hilton Worldwide, for example, partners with various youth organizations in KSA to develop soft skills for the industry. It trains some women for jobs which do not involve meeting the public, while other positions focus on service-related jobs. Bupa Arabia has strict sexual harassment policies in place and regular training on business ethics and acceptable boundaries; this leads to a strong corporate identity and motivated staff.

Organizations have various schemes for training in more specific forms, including traineeships, shadowing programs, and internal and external training programs. Nestlé has Centre of Excellence facilities for executive and business training, and a number of the courses this provides are specifically for women. Shadow training is provided, and courses culminate in the awarding of certificates. The latter introduces a positive element in relation to the retention of staff, making them feel valued and appreciated, while also extending qualifications to be potentially attractive to alternative companies and organizations at a later career stage. Naturally, some companies express concern over productivity if a lot of extra training is necessitated by the nationalization of their workforce.

In some cases, special provisions need to be adopted for labor-market integration of vulnerable population groups. A case example relates to rural areas, where higher education is not always an option for women. Many women in rural areas are involved in traditional income-generating occupations, such as the production of handicrafts. The Council of Cooperative Societies provides training focused on the mindset and soft skills of the participants and runs handcraft programs. Some women also work in the council itself. Programs focusing on literacy and general skill-building are always advantageous.