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Dubai, UAE and Kuwait City, Kuwait – October 23, 2019

Zain Group, the leading mobile telecom innovator in eight markets across the Middle East and Africa, is the recipient of the "Best Gender Diversity Initiative in Workplace for a Corporate in MENA region for 2019" accolade for its Groupwide Women Empowerment (WE) Gender Diversity Program. The honor was bestowed on the company by Entrepreneur Magazine Middle East at its prestigious annual Achieving Women Awards gala event held in Dubai.

The publication is a globally renowned title and its annual awards ceremony is a celebration of the achievements made by women in the MENA business community, recognizing the region's female figures and activities, which are setting them apart from contemporaries.

Zain's Groupwide WE Program is premised on an initiative that was launched officially in Kuwait in November 2017, and which saw approximately 250 women from across all Zain operations gathered to set strategic targets for this important activity going forward. Two main targets established at the inaugural event were:

  1. To increase female leadership positions from 14.5% to 25% by the year 2020
  2. To progress through the three stages of evolution for tackling a gender diverse workforce:

    a. Awareness: Support and resources for tackling gender diversity are nascent and typically driven by external forces
    b. Realization: Gender diversity becomes a topic on the board agenda
    c. Motivation: The language of diversity and inclusion is aligned with the company's strategy and embedded in its culture

Commenting on winning the award, Zain Group Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, Maryam Saif commented, "WE, Gender Diversity Program is the brainchild of Zain Vice-Chairman and Group CEO, Bader Al-Kharafi, and has become central to our development as an organization, and the overwhelming success of the initiative has meant that Zain has enjoyed direct benefits to the rising participation of women in the workforce."

Saif continued, "We are thrilled to be making the strides we are in this area, and what makes us even more enthusiastic is that we are acting as an example of how following an aggressive gender diversity program does not come at the expense of good governance and profitability, but actually has the ability to enhance key performance indicators."

Since 2017, Zain Group's WE Program has grown in activity and impact, with numerous impressive achievements having been chronicled in this period to date, including:

  • Female leadership at Zain Group risen from 14.5% to represent 15.6%
  • Senior female leadership roles have increased 100% from 6 to 12 chief of department roles
  • Historic firsts have seen Zain KSA appoint two female department heads, Chief HR Officer and Chief Business Affairs Officer, and Zain Iraq appointed a female as Chief Human Capital Officer
  • Overall, female middle management has seen a 40% increase
  • Embedded Women Empowerment into the board of director's agenda
  • WE is on the scorecard of all CEOs of Operations; and in Zain Iraq particularly, Directors level and above
  • Signing UN Women Empowerment Principles
  • Awarded scholarships for two women to attend ESADE MBA program

Other highly successful developments under Zain's WE Program include the introduction of one of the most progressive and innovative human resources policies in the region, providing female employees who become new mothers with four months of paid maternity leave, with a flexible schedule for returning to work.  

Earlier this year, ZainGroup also partnered with and supported Women in Data Science (WiDS) Conferences held in Kuwait City and Beirut earlier this year, which were organized jointly by Kuwait's Public Authority for Applied Education and Training (PAAET) and American University of Beirut (AUB) for their respective events. Both conferences are linked with the annual Global WiDS Conference held at Stanford University and an estimated 150 plus locations worldwide.

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