With every passing year, workplace equality becomes a higher priority for organisations around the world – and those in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region are no exception. According to the ‘Working Women in the Middle East and North Africa’ survey by Bayt.com and YouGov, 91.1% of working women in Qatar believe that labour laws are fair to them, at least to some extent.

The survey sought to explore the status of working women in the MENA region by analysing their perceptions when it comes to equality at work and looking into their motivations for employment, challenges faced at work, as well as career and life ambitions. When asked about workplace equality, the survey revealed that 81.5% of working women who answered this question believe that women in Qatar have reached the same level of workplace equality as women do in western countries.

Spotlight on Qatar: Workplace Equality

Regionally, 75% of respondents say there is a mix of men and women working in the same workplace. In Qatar, this figure is slightly higher than the regional average at 77%. What’s more, a large majority (74%) of women in Qatar say they are comfortable working in a mixed gender environment, with more than half (53%) claiming to be extremely comfortable. 24% were neutral in this aspect, while only 1% said they are uncomfortable.

While three-quarters (74%) of respondents working in a mixed-gender environment report having a male manager at their current organisation, nearly the same proportion (73%) have no gender-based preference for a manager.

In Qatar, seven in ten respondents report that they work almost an equal number of hours as their male colleagues, 6% believe they work less hours than their male counterparts, and only 15% said they work more hours. 9% didn’t provide an answer.

As for women-specific benefits in the workplace, the top five benefits MENA respondents receive from their organisations are personal health insurance (47%), paid maternity leave (40%), company transport/transport allowance (34%), job-related training (32%), and family health insurance (23%). Regionally, more than two thirds (69%) of women say their organisation gives them at least one month of official maternity leave. 5% said their maternity leave is less than one month and only 9% said they don’t have an official maternity leave policy. 19% of respondents did not know what the policy is.

Challenges for Working Women in the MENA

The top three challenges cited by MENA women in their workplace are less opportunity for job promotions (44%), a stressful and demanding work environment (37%), and a lack of or insufficient job training and coaching (30%).

Outside of the workplace, when asked about the key challenges in their life, finding good job opportunities (57%), lack of opportunities to improve their professional skills (41%), and not having enough opportunities to relax or socialise (36%) emerged as top three challenges for women in the MENA.

Despite these challenges, a majority of female respondents believe women and men are treated equally in the workplace across a variety of areas, including working hours (68%), training and development (68%), advice and support (60%), recruitment and selection (56%) and benefits (55%).

Rania Nseir, Director of Business Development at Bayt.com said they are glad to see that organisations in the MENA region are doing much more to accommodate women and promote workplace equality.

The results from this year’s ‘Working Women’ survey indicate that organisations in the region are making excellent strides towards achieving total gender balance, even since last year. At Bayt.com, we take pride in our extensive equal opportunity practices and the presence of female employees in every level of our organisation. We also make it a point to provide the tools and information that support other companies to enhance their hiring practices and that give equal access to our female job seekers, in the region and around the globe.’

Career Outlooks for Women in the MENA

Women’s happiness in the region is largely career-oriented, with having a successful career (49%) emerging as the top driver of happiness.

Anjali Chhabra, YouGov Associate Research Director said that the survey seeks to better inform organisations how they can facilitate workplace equality for their employees.

As the world progresses to bring gender equality to the workplace on a greater scale, perceptions and opinions like those found in this survey provide valuable insight into what is working well and where organisations may need to improve.’

Check out this link for more details about the survey.