Before Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman assumed office in 2017, Saudi Arabian women had only a marginal presence in the Kingdom’s labour force. However, since then notable milestones achieved include granting women the right to drive, access to sports, a first female ambassador, freedom to travel, the right to live alone, greater workforce participation, and the right to serve in the Saudi military. Here, our network of Saudi pharma industry stakeholders give their insights on the benefits that this bolstered position for women can bring.
Fayad Al Dandashi, CEO, Tamer HealthCare
“Women’s entry into the labour force is one of the major social reforms on the government’s agenda and a major accomplishment. Female participation in the labour force was 15 percent in 2015 and it has doubled in five years.
From a corporate point of view, we have clear milestones for the diversity and inclusion of our organization and are moving quite aggressively on this front
“More women are entering the labour force and being employed. Recent unemployment figures show an improvement, unemployment declined by one percent Y-O-Y basis. From a corporate point of view, we have clear milestones for the diversity and inclusion of our organization and are moving quite aggressively on this front. Tamer wants to not only provide more jobs to women but also allow them to move up the organizational ladder.”
Zeina Sfeir Lahoud, GM, Biologix
“The Saudization strategy has been helpful in providing new opportunities to people that otherwise would be left out of the industry. Today, we have more Saudi colleagues inside the team than ever before. This enhances diversity especially since we have used Saudization as an opportunity to have more females working within the team. Additionally, Saudi women are assertive, know what they want, and are ready for the challenge.
Saudi women are assertive, know what they want, and are ready for the challenge
“We have also been complying in partnership with our local distributor; our aim is to have a balance between men and women not only in our Saudi team but across all the markets where we compete.”
Daniel Vella Friggieri, Regional CEO, Middle East, North Africa & Turkey, Aspen
“Aspen is aligning with Vision 2030’s human capability development program, with 100 percent of our customer-facing workforce now Saudi nationals, many of whom are present at a managerial level. Today, 25 percent of our product specialists are women which is a positive development in the country and moving forward I would like to see even more women taking on managerial positions.
Moving forward I would like to see even more women taking on managerial positions
“We do not differentiate between culture, race, or gender; our aim is to employ people based on their capabilities and expertise to do the job. However, in certain emerging markets with new staff joining the workforce, it is important to proactively look for a diverse set of profiles.”
Nada Abu-Shraie, consultant, clinical pharmacist (Drug Information), King Abdulaziz Medical City (KAMC), Saudi Ministry of National Guard – Health Affairs (MNGHA)
“I believe that the real benefit that women will bring to the Saudi healthcare system is in the diversity that they offer, especially given the education, knowledge, and experiences they have nowadays.
The real benefit that women will bring to the Saudi healthcare system is in the diversity that they offer
“The high sense of responsibility that Saudi women possess is the real added value, which is reflected within society. In traditional Saudi culture, women have a leading and influential role and today they are showing more strength with added knowledge, and the empowerment provided by Vision 2030.”
Ismail Shehada, CEO Pharma Sector, Saudi Chemical Company Holding
“Diversity is very important for us and a key focus area. The percentage of female employees on our staff is increasing year on year and there are now a good number of highly capable freshly graduated Saudi women joining the workforce every year.
“I am proud to see so many young women joining our industry and taking part in the country’s transformation
“I am proud to see so many young women joining our industry and taking part in the country’s transformation. As part of an internship program with King Saud University, we will have 14 women trained with us and we hope that upon graduation they will join us as employees in the future.”
Ayman Tamer, chairman & managing partner, Tamer Group
“We have increased the number of females in management positions, including senior management, from four to 14 percent. We have several female leaders in our organisation development (OD) department, taking charge of human resources (HR), and helping foster an excellent working environment. This inclusiveness and greater female participation is supported by the establishment of nursery facilities and greater maternity leave. I foresee even greater female participation in the future as they really want to compete and prove themselves.
The ambition of His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman for liberalisation and equality is becoming a reality and is being reflected in our culture
“The ambition of His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman for liberalisation and equality is becoming a reality and is being reflected in our culture. Allowing women to drive has been a headline, but more broadly there has been an emancipation of thought and creativity. This can be seen in the people we hire; the company brings around 150 to 200 people onboard each year, of which 70 percent are Saudis, but their success rate has skyrocketed since 2018. This is despite the fact that our new staff are similar people to their predecessors, graduating from the same universities in the same country. What has changed is their self-conviction, self-belief, and ability to think freely.”
Mona Obaid, medical director, Lilly
“As part of Vision 2030, companies are driving diversity and inclusion, hiring more Saudi talent. The local Lilly organization is made up of 80 percent Saudi nationals, with gender parity and almost 75 percent millennials. The interesting part of Saudi Arabia is the talents for medical functions, companies just need to identify it and drive awareness about career opportunities within the pharma industry.
Women have been part of the workforce for decades, in education, for example, but Vision 2030 made it the norm rather than the exception
“In my personal experience, the emphasis on female empowerment is something that has provided us with optimism.
“Women have been part of the workforce for decades, in education, for example, but Vision 2030 made it the norm rather than the exception. The new normal is to find women in the workplace, we are perceived as equal when applying for a job.”
Ashraf Daoud, general manager, AbbVie
“We are looking forward to implementing a global initiative called EED&I (Equity, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion).
We are particularly investing in initiatives to include more women in the workplace and leadership positions
“We are particularly investing in initiatives to include more women in the workplace and leadership positions; the affiliate has launched another initiative called WLA (Women Leaders in Action) to ensure that we have KPIs to keep track of our progress in that area.”