Women left out of Qatarisation strategies, finds survey

Initiatives to improve female employment across the GCC are not fully reflected in Qatarisation strategies. According to a new survey report, Strategic Qatarisation: Focusing on Meaningful Employment, conducted by Oxford Strategic Consulting (OSC), more than a third of organisations in Qatar (36%) either never or sometimes “actively promote female nationals” as part of their Qatarisation strategy. Qatari women represent about half of the national workforce with approximately 91,000 working-age female nationals, but Qatarisation strategies do not always engage this vital demographic segment.


While the government excels in promoting women through Qatarisation programmes, most organisations can improve in this critical area. When surveyed about their Qatarisation strategies, 11% of senior business leaders in Qatar stated that they never promoted female nationals in their organisations. A further 25% of organisations stated that they only sometimes promote female nationals. Smaller organisations (250-499 employees) were significantly less likely than larger organisations (500+ employees) to actively promote female nationals. As noted, government and semi-government organisations were significantly more likely than private sector organisations to always actively promote female nationals (79% vs. 25%).


Employing more Qatari women requires effective talent pipelines. In a scarce talent market, business leaders need to be on the lookout for talent that fits their organisation and talent needs. Yet the least used Qatarisation strategies by surveyed organisations included links with schools, colleges and universities. For example, 47% of companies rarely undertook activities to identify potential talent early, while 50% rarely offered careers advice to Nationals at schools and colleges. Similarly, OSC’s Qatar Employment Report 2016 found that 44% of Qatari women listed “not hearing about jobs” as a significant difficulty when sourcing employment. Effective female talent pipelines require stronger links with educational institutions as well as more pragmatic techniques, such as talent spotting, ambassador programmes and internal referrals.


Development opportunities for female nationals are also lacking. Once female jobseekers join an organisation, they often face obstacles in their professional development paths. Only 33% of companies surveyed stated that they always maximise development and involvement of national talent. Similarly, just 33% of companies always identify key talent managers. Providing the right environment for female leadership is critical, be it through mentorship, graduate training schemes or investing in emotional intelligence. As these talent pipelines are developed, organisations then need to ensure that Qatari women can achieve levels of seniority by reaching C-Suite roles and Board memberships; a major goal for career-minded women.


Qatar’s national demographics may increase competition for talent, but it also makes attracting, recruiting and developing the female national workforce more achievable. The focus on female talent should not only target top level talent but also “second” and “third level” Qataris, those who should be trained to become leaders of the future. The most practically-minded companies should build effective talent pipelines by reaching out to female nationals often and early in addition to ensuring ample development opportunities for new entrants to the workforce or those who re-join after maternity leave or as a second wave in their careers.