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KPMG: Female business leadership to increase in Saudi Arabia

KPMG’s Female Leaders Outlook 2020 report will be made available in Saudi Arabia for the first time. We explore what this could mean for finance

|Mar 8|magazine5 min read

The report itself is a survey conducted in 2020 with a sample of 675 women across 52 countries. According to KPMG 25 of this total come from Saudi Arabia.

Its initial results were made public at the Women 20 Summit (W20) held in October 2020, an official G20 event held in Saudi Arabia. The takeaways of W20 were two-fold:

  1. “Gender-centric” measures for economic recovery
  2. Long-term economic empowerment of women

Female leadership: A key to finance's renewal

But what effect will this have on Saudi Arabia's financial services sector?

The open reception to KPMG’s findings could be a significant step for global gender equality, and it couldn’t have come at a more critical moment: in a world ravaged by COVID-19 and legacy finance infrastructure that is no longer meeting peoples’ needs adequately, diversity and inclusion can be powerful problem-solving advantages.

Regarding the adoption of digital technology in modern finance, Alexandra Roddy, CMO at Zafin, told us that we’re living in an unprecedented business landscape where “new technologies have no ‘experts’,” and therefore “opportunities to break down preconceptions of competency” abound.

This complements research conducted by Deloitte, which found that female executives generally deliver a higher ROI than their male counterparts, though they continue to be overlooked by comparison.

COVID-19: The change accelerator

“COVID-19 is an accelerator for digitalisation and has ignited change in many areas; therefore, it could be seen as a catalyst for gender diversity, especially in the mid- to long-term,” said Kholoud Mousa, Partner & Head of Inclusion and Diversity, KPMG in Saudi Arabia.

“The Female Leaders Outlook survey offers compelling insights into how women in leadership positions view the competitive business landscape today. Our research shows that female leaders generally are very well positioned with strong emotional intelligence, excellent communication skills and a focus on sustainable growth and living.”

Perhaps most notable in KPMG’s findings was that a supermajority of Saudi respondents (73%) believe that women represent the future of business, compared to 53% elsewhere. 

The negative socio-economic impact of the pandemic is beyond dispute, but emboldened female leadership could prove to be one of its accidental benefits. Taking on board the research into womens’ quantitatively positive effect on business outcomes, it could also be finance’s saving grace at a time of unprecedented change.   

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