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International Women’s Day 2023
Embrace Equity


As International Women's Day calls for action in pursuing gender equity and promoting women's achievements, Khatib & Alami have delved into how we, as an industry, can identify and seek to remove barriers to more significant equity within our field.

In support of this year's theme, K&A explores what it means to #EmbraceEquity and how innovation and technology can actively promote it from the viewpoint of six of our peers:

• Anood AlAmri, Senior Administrative Assistant (HR), Oman office
• Dania Alamoush, Design Landscape Architect, Sharjah office
• Doaa Medhat, Senior Lead Business Analyst, Cairo office
• Eugene Bteich, Marketing Officer, Beirut office
• Mona Edarous, Proposals Senior Manager, Dubai office
• Vijaya Venkata, BIM Manager, Bangalore office

Question: What are the most critical steps companies can take to promote employee equity?

Anood: To promote equity, companies should create training programs that match employees' skills, needs, and career goals to current and future opportunities. Businesses should actively recruit and hire diverse employees, provide fair compensation, offer fair promotions and development options, and acknowledge the value of different voices in decision-making processes.

Dania: The first step any company should take is to raise awareness about gender equity in the workplace because only some know the concept or the importance of equity.

Doaa: Organizations should understand that each employee has specific needs and ensure everyone is given the same opportunity to grow and develop, regardless of background. It will help create a more inclusive and equitable workplace and foster a sense of belonging and appreciation among employees.

Eugene: One of the most critical steps organizations can take to promote employment equity is to build a talent pipeline and examine their recruitment strategy to have a bigger pool of diverse talents. They should facilitate inclusive working environments with equitable parental leave, flexible work scheduling, and programs to advance women in leadership positions.

Mona: Companies can promote employment equity by ensuring all employees, regardless of background, nationality, gender, or age, have equal opportunities for success. To do this, companies should develop policies, adopt an inclusive culture, maintain communication with employees, create an effective system for reporting discrimination, and address underlying causes contributing to systemic inequities.

Vijaya: The steps companies can take to promote equity is first to identify and address barriers and biases, then foster an accountability and transparency culture, and encourage employee feedback. They should also measure and track progress toward equity goals and take action to address any employees' concerns or issues.

Question: Can you tell us about a project you have worked on that you are proud of and why?

Anood: I have gained substantial experience during the last few years in leading, coaching, and monitoring team members and working proactivity with managers to develop initiative program training for new employees that reflects positively on their performance and our company.

Dania: I am currently working on a couple of projects proposing cycle tracks in Dubai, and it's inspiring to be part of bringing this sustainable mode of transport into people's lives!

Doaa: I'm fond of projects that have a tangible impact on society, decision-making, and business. One example is collaboration on urban observatory projects among cities and communities that contributes to equity on multiple levels, from measuring SDG progress to providing information-based decision-making. It's also worth noting that women made up half of all Urban Observatories project teams; in one case, they made up 95% of the project team.

Eugene: I recently became a Certified Python Business Analyst. This certification covers the processes and technologies that allow businesses to use Python to assess the success of their marketing initiatives. I’m very proud that by incorporating Python into our marketing operations I have helped the company make better data-driven decisions, communicate business objectives more effectively, and contribute to the company's ROI.

Mona: I am proud of every project I have worked on, whether successful or challenging, because it is through difficulties that we grow and develop. Having the ability to work with and assist my colleagues in various ways also makes me proud.

Vijaya: I am incredibly proud of my accomplishment of being the top-rated speaker at AU2022 in New Orleans. Preparing for the conference was challenging, but all my hard work paid off. It was gratifying to know that my presentations had made a real impact on people and that I had helped advance knowledge in BIM.

Question: How do you see technology promoting equity and breaking down barriers? Anood: Technology enables virtual interaction, meaning that work-from-home solutions, online training programs, virtual job fairs, and open-source educational materials add more diversity, equity, and inclusion. Technology also allows the automation of traditionally manual processes like hiring and promotion, aiding in eliminating unconscious biases.

Dania: Technology is breaking down barriers by bringing people closer to each other and facilitating communication and collaboration among individuals from diverse backgrounds, promoting cultural exchange and understanding. It is creating a more inclusive society where everyone has a voice and can participate in the global conversation.

Doaa: Technology assists in the spread of awareness on a variety of issues. One example is the impact of social media and how it can drive change and raise awareness on gender equity and women's rights, among other subjects.

Eugene: AI and machine learning are powerful tools for businesses to obtain technology-based recruitment solutions and address equity issues. AI-based software platforms aim to detect and mitigate unconscious bias at the decision-making stage, while machine learning platforms rely on algorithms to prevent historical patterns of underrepresentation.

Mona: Technology allows for greater collaboration and networking opportunities, breaking down barriers of physical distance and allowing people to work together more efficiently and effectively. It also offers accurate and better decisions based on data and facts and a window for people with disabilities to study and gain skills through online platforms.

Vijaya: Technology promotes equity by increasing transparency and communication across geographic and cultural boundaries, helping to level the playing field and provide opportunities to those who may not have had access to them.

Question: How can we encourage more women to enter traditionally male-dominated fields?

Anood: We can encourage more women to enter traditionally male-dominated fields by creating supportive environments where women feel accepted, respected, and empowered. That could include implementing programs and initiatives that assist women in building networks, creating mentorship opportunities, gaining access to resources and financing, and receiving training for specific skills related to their fields.

Dania: Employers should offer flexible working hours and remote options to enable more women to balance their work and personal lives. Mentorship programs and networking opportunities can provide women entering these fields with support and guidance.

Doaa: We must focus on increasing women's awareness of their values and empowering them to believe more in their abilities and skills. To achieve true equity, men must advocate for gender-balanced workforces.

Eugene: Leaders must accept responsibility for addressing diversity and inclusion by providing a pipeline for under-represented minorities from entry-level to senior leadership positions. Large corporations should also qualify female apprentices, give them a voice to prove themselves, and fight for the future of the young generation.

Mona: We should begin early by encouraging young girls to pursue a variety of professions and assisting them in identifying their strengths and interests. Raising awareness and providing needed resources, such as mentorships and scholarships, are other ways to close the gender gap.

Vijaya: Challenging gender stereotypes, offering support and resources, creating inclusive workplaces, and advocating for policies that promote gender diversity and inclusion can all contribute to continued progress in reducing barriers for women to enter male-dominated fields.

Question: What advice would you give young women just starting their careers, especially those facing additional barriers to success?

Anood: Focus on the skills that make you an all-star and keep trying to improve on your weaker ones. Always have a voice, and never be afraid to use it.

Dania: Learn as much as you can, and always do work you are proud of.

Doaa: It all comes down to "yes, you can" and "it is never too late." It is natural to fall and fail, but what distinguishes you from others is your determination to get back up and continue your journey or even begin a new one.

Eugene: Own who you are and focus on your skills. Consider how you can impact your abilities and contributions to your organization while growing personally.

Mona: Regardless of the odds, don't give up on yourself: network with professionals in your field, search for growth opportunities, and stay positive.

Vijaya: Don't let obstacles discourage you from pursuing opportunities outside your comfort zone, and remember, you can achieve anything you want with passion, dedication, and perseverance.

Question: How can we continue celebrating and supporting women?

Anood: Honoring those at the forefront of the battle against gender discrimination and inequity and remembering the value of all women in our lives, whether mothers, daughters, sisters, or coworkers, is a way to step up our efforts and mobilize our actions to help empower women at all levels, everywhere.

Dania: I was raised to believe that everyone is equal and that women should not be treated differently than men. So let us always believe in our abilities and support one another.

Doaa: We can continue to celebrate and support women by sharing their accomplishments and fostering the values of women's inclusion and impact on the workplace as corporate values and beliefs.

Eugene: Raising awareness against bias and encouraging women and men to champion initiatives to create a gender-equal workplace and improve the overall work culture is one of the ways we can celebrate women's day.

Mona: International Women's Day celebrates women's accomplishments, recognizes their resilience and strength, and advances gender equality. To do this, we should ensure women can access resources such as job training opportunities and safe networking spaces.

Vijaya: Every day should be women's day. We must work together to create a world where women are valued, respected, and given equal opportunities to succeed. We must advocate for policies and practices promoting gender equality, such as equal pay, paid family leave, and flexible work arrangements.