The KIP Index, the first Arab MENA sector-based measure of women-inclusive policies and practices in local organizations, by the Center for Inclusive Business and Leadership (CIBL) for Women, part of the Olayan School of Business (OSB) at the American University of Beirut (AUB), has been released. The KIP Index shows that women in the Arab MENA region want to work, yet workplace policies and practices continue to discriminate against them.

The quantitative and qualitative data derived from 11 Arab MENA countries, over 1700 formal employer surveys and over 520 interviews with women, is telling, and shows two sides to the story. So, what do organizations need to know about the Recruitment, Retention and Promotion practices and policies across sectors in the Arab MENA?

Here are the key findings from the KIP Index and Lived Experience Index:

  • Highest ranking sector: Out of the six sectors, Healthcare as a sector, is relatively ranked highest with a score of 45. The KIP Index results have revealed that Healthcare is at the top of all sectors in 6 of the 11 countries, including Kuwait, Tunisia, Morocco, Jordan, Bahrain, and Yemen.
  • Lowest ranking sector: Out of the six sectors, STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) is relatively ranked lowest with a score of 34. In fact, STEM ranks lowest of all sectors in 7 of the 11 countries, including Kuwait, Tunisia, Iraq, Algeria, Jordan, Bahrain and Lebanon. Women are almost absent from leadership positions in STEM.
  • Recruitment policies and practices in the Arab MENA region rank highest (41.72), followed by Promotion (38.27), while Retention ranks the lowest in the region (34.28).
  • Sexual harassment is still an issue in regional workplaces, due to the absence of formal policies and practices to combat incidents in the workplace.

“Over the course of two years, we sought to collect and analyze data, to close the data deficit in the region that weakens effective strategy building,” shares Dr. Charlotte Karam, Founding Director of CIBL for Women. “What we found was telling – women’s formal employment across the Arab MENA is lagging behind every other region in the world. If we want to make progress, employers across sectors and borders must be a core part of the change process,” she adds.

Rankings and findings per sector

  • Financial Services & Professional Services sectors: lack of anti-discrimination and anti-sexual harassment policies in the workplace, in addition to prevalent discrimination in the policies and practices of Recruitment (selection bias, low number of applications), Retention (lack of guidance and lack of support for work/life balance) and Promotion (underrepresentation at every level that becomes more apparent as the position becomes more senior).
  • Healthcare sector: Ranks highest in 6 of the 11 countries, including Kuwait, Tunisia, Morocco, Jordan, Bahrain and Yemen. However, women perceive an absence of work-life balance mechanisms in this sector, thereby lowering their relative ranking on the Retention dimension.
  • Education sector: Scores second highest after healthcare. On a regional Arab MENA-level on the Lived Experience Index, education sector scores lowest in women’s lived experiences across all sectors in recruitment, retention and promotion, while other services scores highest comparatively
  • Other Services Sector: All dimension scores across the RRPs are low for the Other Services sector on the KIP Index. This sector seems to be struggling to attract female nationals as reflected in the low number of applicants to this sector.
  • STEM sector: Ranks the lowest among all sectors (36.44) below the Arab MENA average of 38.67. Retention dimension ranked the lowest for this sector, indicating a dire need for organizations to implement strategies that can help to retain women.

“There have been notable shifts in gender-inclusive strategies across the MENA region, but there is still a lot more to be done by regional employers, policymakers and official governing bodies,” says Dr. Charlotte Karam. “Women in the region continue to want to work, seek development opportunities, and pursue upward career mobility. To support women, CIBL for Women continues to partner with employers to improve recruitment, retention, and promotion policies and practices, with relative urgency noted in the STEM sector,” she adds.

Read the KIP Index and Lived Experience Index, here and find out how formal employers can shift their policies and practices to create move inclusive workplaces.

Join the movement for change in the region

Read the KIP Index and Lived Experience Index Recommendations in the Roadmap for Inclusive Business and Leadership (#RIBLeffect).

From the region, for the region


About CIBL for Women

The Center for Inclusive Business and Leadership (CIBL) for Women is a multidisciplinary and multisector team of researchers and practitioners dedicated to inclusive workplace practices and policies for women’s economic participation across the Arab Middle East and North Africa (MENA). We work with a transnational network of businesses, CSOs, INGOs, experts, academics, and activists working in and across the Arab MENA.

Founded in 2019, but building on decades of activist-scholarship, CIBL for Women partners with decision-makers and employers in the public, private and nonprofit sectors to create inclusive and empowering HR systems. Our mission is to give women’s work experiences greater value and influence in the design of programs, initiatives and policies that affect their lives, careers and wellbeing.

In partnership with our team and international network, CIBL for Women is a catalyst for structural change. Building on extensive regional research, practices, and analysis, we co-design effective change initiatives, build the capacity of decision makers, and mobilize collectively to overcome the multitude of barriers to women’s dignified recruitment, retention, and promotion.

Read more about CIBL for Women, here.

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