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ICAEW Launches Female Leaders Programme in Middle East so ‘Women Can Empower Each Other to Thrive’

The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) has launched its inaugural mentorship initiative, the ‘Inspiring Future Female Leaders Programme’, aiming to develop the next generation of female finance leaders in the Middle East.

The new Future Female Leaders Programme will pair prominent women in the finance sector with aspiring members and students, to encourage them to share their experiences and insights – ultimately aiming to direct more women into leadership roles.

ICAEW’s programme hopes to enhance aspiring members’ leadership skills, expand their professional network, and improve their business decision-making skills through confidential group discussions and workshops. Sessions will address challenges for women in the industry, including building a career, leadership, taking risks, resilience, personal branding, work/ life balance, and the role of sponsors, coaches and mentors.

The Middle East region grapples with gender equality, with the largest gap to close standing at 62.6 per cent, according to the World Economic Forum’s 2023 Global Gender Gap Report.

Globally, women hold just 23 per cent of c-suite level positions in finance, contrasting with 49 per cent representation in entry-level positions.

Increasing the number of female finance leaders is also beneficial for business and the economy alike. A number of studies highlight how a higher proportion share of women, particularly in senior positions, boosts innovation, resilience, and financial performance. It also contributes to greater economic empowerment for women by providing opportunities for career advancement, financial independence, and closing gender gaps in income and wealth.

Creating an ‘ecosystem where women can empower each other to thrive’

Amanda Line, non-executive director at Vestey HoldingsSana Khater, executive director of finance at ALDAR, as well as Jaimi Raikundalia, partner at Deloitte, are three of the mentors confirmed for the programme’s first cohort.

Amanda Line commented: “By offering a platform for seasoned female finance leaders to share their experiences and insights to emerging professionals, ICAEW is helping to create a supportive ecosystem where women can empower each other to thrive. It’s through women supporting women in finance that we will move closer to bridging the gender gap within our industry.”

Sana Khater also shared her enthusiasm for the initiative: “It’s imperative to encourage and enable young women to enter the finance sector with the right toolkit and skillset to thrive in an ever-growing complex, cross-border, and multidisciplinary business landscape where they can confidently add perspective, participate in financial decision making, and lead teams and organisations. ICAEW’s programme is a grassroots initiative focused on fostering the female finance leaders of tomorrow.”

Jaimi Raikundalia also said: “The evidence is clear: gender-diverse workforces correlate with more profitable companies. Despite increased awareness among corporate and government leaders for diversity as a driver of economic growth, women remain underrepresented in financial sectors.

“Our research shows that in companies where the CEOs were women, the percentages of women on boards and in senior management were double that of peer companies. That’s why women-led initiatives, like ICAEW’s programme, are essential for driving change at a grassroots level.”

ICAEW’s first Inspiring Future Leaders programme will run from 24 April to 24 July, with limited capacity. Interested members and students can apply via the ICAEW website, with applications closing on 22 April 2024.

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