The number of women in workforces in Gulf has consistently moved at a consistent pace in past few years assited. From higher level education to work force involvement – women have made a mark in all aspects. Presently, the percentage of women in the field of education is continuously increasing in comparison to males in the region.
As per the Booz & Company report on women’s workforce participation in the Gulf, only 28 percent of local women work in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Also the number of unemployed women in the country outnumber the men in case of education. Likewise in other GCC countries, the rate of female workforce is merely 25 percent in Oman and 30 percent in Bahrain. Though Kuwait on the other hand has come a long way and stands very close to achieving gender equality with 67 percent of women making up to university graduates and 51 percent of them are working.
Glowork — a Saudi- based women empowerment organisation has stood as an example in the field of women empowerment by creating thousands of jobs for women. Glowork has been also been awarded ‘The best innovation globally for job creation’ title, by the United Nation, ILO (International Labour Organisation) and World Bank.
Talking about his new venture in Dubai, Khalid Alkhudair admits that has been eyeing Dubai market for quite some time now. He stated that there are numerous job opportunities which need to be channelised and presented to the women in need or willing to explore their careers. He plans to catering to all age groups (16-year-onwards) at Dubai Glowork. It is worth a mention here that Glowork has so far provided employment to 27,000, which makes it an impressive average of 26 women per day.
According to a survey conducted by Glowork, when people were asked about the women working in retail sales concept, 42 percent accepted the idea and 58 percent did not. In another question, when the surveyed women were asked about their job preferences, 37 percent said they prefer working in the cosmetic stores followed by 33 percent who said they are willing to work in the clothes stores and 14 percent agreeing to work at lingerie stores. Out of all, 8 percent of respondents said they don’t mind working in either optical or furniture stores as well.
Glowork consists of a team of 68 employees out of which 90 percent are women.
In March 2014, Khalid was elected as a Young Global Leader at the World Economic Forum for his work in social entrepreneurship. Previously he held the role of COO- Markets at KPMG in Saudi, Kuwait and Jordan which helped him secure an expert insight into all the key aspects of strategic and successful marketing and operations. Khalid managed to lead the firms he worked with to over 30 key awards which were aligned to the firm’s overall corporate goals and strategy. In 2013 Khalid led Glowork to an investment of over US$16 million to expand its current operations into different verticals.
Excerpts from the Interview
What was the triggering point in your life that motivated you to initiate with your inspirational venture Glowork? How do you think is Glowork making a difference?
When my sister came back from Canada, she struggled to find a job. That is when I decided to take on a movement to penetrate the Saudi job market and promote diversity and equality. In May 2011, I founded Glowork and turned it into a replicable innovative model for job creation for women. I conducted research to understand the obstacles that play a role in women’s employment and therefore I try to bridge the gap between female jobseekers and employers.
We, at Glowork, have placed over 20,000 women throughout the Saudi labour force in the last four years. Also we have established a virtual offices tool that enables women to work virtually in rural areas and with disabilities; along with our annual career fair ‘StepAhead’ which has helped more than 3000 women recruitments. Also it saw a parcipation of more than 30,000 females in 3 different cities (Riyadh, Dammam and Jeddah). Very soon we are launching an application that will impact women globally!
What was the number of females in workforce four years ago when you started?
Four years ago there were 40,000 women in the private sector in Saudi. Today there are over 500,000 women in the private sector.
Do you think Glowork is achieving its target and how do you thing is the company is contributing to the economy of the country?
We have created solutions which are sustainable for us, the government, and employers. For Example a subsidy that government currently pays for anyone unemployed and a jobseeker cost a lot of revenue to the government.
Glowork offered to utilise the data of the unemployed and find job opportunities for them and provide a service to employers by filtering, screening and assessing female candidates at no cost to employers as government covers the cost. Employers are encouraged to open jobs for women as they can outsource their recruitment to a professional firm, government saves a lot of money and we have a sustainable business.
On average 26 women are recruited daily into private sector companies in Saudi Arabia through Glowork. We also have had a major impact on the cultural shift through grass root marketing and efforts that change the mindset of the society towards women working.
Glowork being one of its kind has been one of the first Saudi job portal for women, did you ever feel the pressure or the prejudice obstructing your goal at the time you initiated this venture?
Glowork has faced many financial and social challenges but the company has always tried to change those obstacles into opportunities that can be utilised in the future by raising the awareness of intellectual areas that women can operate.
According to ILO around 25 percent of Middle East population is unemployed. How can we can change this situation?
Yes, we can reduce the percentage through creating and developing many different services and tools that can help jobseekers get a job. Glowork is one of the solutions that is dedicated to females and is considered as a platform that bridges the gap between female jobseekers and employers. Glowork’ s digital system lists thousands of job opportunities for women, which helps decrease the percentage of unemployed people in the Middle East. Our new application looks at social media as a form of employment and you behavior on social media has an impact on opportunities that are available for you.
Can you pin point on disadvantage that the women encounter in the corporate world?
One major point is employers have lack of expertise and experience to create a work environment conducive to female employees. These are followed by transportation issues, lack of child care centres and gap between education and the corporate world
Unemployment has been the biggest crisis across the world in today’s time, in your opinion how do you think we can fight this problem?
Lack of economic growth and rapid technology changes have had a huge impact on the youth unemployment crisis. However, government and private sector should cooperate together in order to create different strategic plans and agencies that can guide and assist youth in developing their skills and qualifications to be ready for the job market.
What do you think is the future prospect of job portals in the Gulf region?
With the technological advances that we face nowadays, job portals have become an essential tool for the next generation, which will help the unemployed. However we are shifting towards creating a social recruitment community.
Very soon Glowork will be available for women throughout the globe to interact with one another and increase their opportunities of finding jobs
Do you have any other project in the pipeline that you are excited about?
One is obviously our Dubai project, other than that, we would be launching our mobile application; this application will be a first mover globally. Be on the lookout for it on the app stores.