Empowering Saudi women for the workplace

Over the past six months, Saudi Arabia has taken big strides towards setting a strategy to be one of the strongest economies in the world by 2030. An integral part of the strategy is to increase women’s participation in the workforce from 22 per cent to 30.

As such, Saudi women are preparing themselves to join the workforce in the kingdom. According to our LinkedIn insights, 63 per cent of Saudi female members have indicated completing bachelor’s degrees, exceeding percentages when compared to other developed countries such as the US which comes at 57 per cent. In addition, over 17 per cent have completed a master’s degree, demonstrating the efforts Saudi women are taking in equipping themselves with the necessary knowledge and skill sets.

Despite these numbers, over half (52 per cent) of Saudi women believe that the biggest myth hindering their career is that they don’t have the right skills for the job opportunities available. Saudi women are clearly highly educated and qualified to join the workplace, yet feel there is a misperception around their qualifications.

These are insights gleaned by research as part of our #hearitfromme (Esmaaha Menni) campaign, which focuses on Saudi women in the workplace and the attitudes around the progress being made.

While Saudis are ready and armed with the right skills to join the workforce, more than a third (38 per cent) sill find that the hardest thing about getting a job is finding the right opportunity to match their expectations. It’s evident that while Saudi women have the necessary skills to be hired, they need to ensure they are visible and reachable to potential employers to find the right job opportunities.

Saudi women who are keen to further their careers need to showcase their skills and readiness on platforms such as LinkedIn, which will allow the kingdom to thrive by creating a more productive and creative workforce. Our main goal is to connect talent in the global workforce with economic opportunity, which is why we want to concentrate on the situation in Saudi Arabia as millions of women prepare to join the workforce, potentially for the first time.

As the country moves towards achieving Saudi Vision 2030, women should continue to seek higher education, honing their skills and learn new skills to keep up with business and industry. Women should be preparing themselves for top-level positions in the private sector as these opportunities become more readily available.

It is also the women’s responsibility to be aware of their rights in the workplace and to ensure these are being enforced. There are progressive policies in place in the kingdom. For example, under the labour law, the owner of a company that employs 50 women or more must provide childcare facilities, including babysitters for children under six years and a nursery must be open if there are 10 children or more, something that other countries with higher female participation in the workforce do not have.

Finally, we cannot ignore the great progress that has taken place in the kingdom over the past few years. Great strides have been taken. It’s clear these efforts are being recognised by Saudi women and recruiters, as more than 60 per cent agree there is great progress towards achieving Saudi Arabia’s vision. With our campaign, we are looking to take this to even greater heights.

Reem Mohammad is Head of Public Sector, LinkedIn, Saudi Arabia.