KUWAIT CITY, Sept 24: Fostering a work environment that ensures equal opportunities and supports gender diversity is a top priority of Alghanim Industries, CEO Omar Kutayba Alghanim told senior managers at a company-hosted Town Hall last week. From a regional standpoint, he noted, the Middle East has four times the gender gap in comparison to North America. A call-to-action is needed, Omar Alghanim stated.
“This is a regional challenge and we are part of this region,” he said. “It is our responsibility to take a progressive stand and be agents of change.” Gender diversity also makes good business sense, Omar Alghanim added. “Studies consistently show that companies with more women among senior management outperform companies that don’t,” he said. “Within our company, I’ve seen mixed-gender teams offer perspectives that we would have never considered had the room been filled with only men.”
The company can — and must — do better when it comes to recruiting, retaining and promoting women, Omar Alghanim summed: “We need more women in our workplace, and more, specifically, in decision making roles.” The Town Hall, held at the JW Marriott in downtown Kuwait, was attended by all Kuwait-based managers — more than 300 people in all. The event was organized by the company’s Human Resources department, and included a review of female-friendly initiatives that have been implemented since the beginning of the year. Among the highlights: a new maternity policy, which increases company-paid time off for women from 70 days, as required by Kuwaiti labor laws, to a full three months (90 days). The policy applies to women who work for Kuwait and United Arab Emirates-based businesses.
The meeting also showcased the results of a nationwide survey, conducted by Alghanim Industries in February (2016), that illuminated many issues associated with women in the Kuwaiti workplace. This survey — the first of its kind in Kuwait – generated results from more than 2,000 female respondents. Town Hall participants also reviewed and discussed feedback from focus groups held earlier this year with female employees across the company’s various businesses and functions. In these focus groups, women provided their candid thoughts, suggestions and critiques directly to senior management.
The Town Hall concluded with a Q&A session with Omar Alghanim and the senior management team. This forum resulted in a series of spirited exchanges among and between top executives, further affirming and reflecting the company’s straight-talking value chain.
Chief Human Resources Officer George Lambros, commenting on the event, said: “Holding this Town Hall session with our top 300 managers emphasizes Alghanim Industries’ commitment to diversity and inclusion. It also served to highlight issues and challenges involved in achieving our diversity objectives; in addition, we shared ideas and actions that can be implemented in the coming months. All told, this was a very sigifificant — and successful — event.”
Lambros further noted that attendees were highly engaged throughout the session, which he also found encouraging. “I look forward to making substantial progress in this critical area,” he summed.
In addition to gender diversity, Alghanim Industries is also striving towards greater Kuwaitization, and thusly is also focused on recruiting the best Kuwaiti talent, women as well as men.