• 53% of women compared to 24% of men are concerned about cyber readiness
  • Male and female leaders emphasize different ESG challenges
  • The UAE Government is introducing sweeping measures to increase female representation in the C-suite, with recent studies showing a growth in female leadership in UAE boardrooms over the past two years

Dubai, 12 December 2022: Female leaders emerged as significantly more people-focused and empathetic than their male counterparts, with 64% of UAE women prioritizing investment in developing their workforce’s skills and capabilities compared with a mere 24% for men, who are instead prioritizing buying new technology. This is according to the latest edition of the KPMG 2022 Women Business Leaders Outlook, which surveyed female leaders from 50 countries, including the UAE.

Three quarters of UAE female leaders (72%) also felt their organization has a responsibility to help with reskilling the workforce to avoid lay-offs, compared with 60% of men.

The survey found that UAE female leaders are reconfiguring and securing the supply chain, advancing digitalization, connectivity, and cyber security resilience as a top priority. This differed from the priorities outlined by UAE male CEOs, who cited digitalization as a top priority, followed by inflation-proofing capital and input costs, and improving the employee value proposition to attract and retain talent.

UAE female leaders are confident of their business prospects as they pursue aggressive M&A strategies, with 74% saying new partnerships will be critical to continue the rapid pace of digital transformation post pandemic.

More than half of the UAE women surveyed also felt their companies needed to be more transparent regarding equal pay. As many as 82% believe a lot more needs to be done to build gender diversity on boards and management levels, and 62% experienced stereotyping and bias in their day-to-day work. Encouragingly, the UAE Government is introducing sweeping measures to increase female representation in the C-suite, with recent studies showing a growth in female leadership in UAE boardrooms over the past two years[1].

Emilio Pera, Senior Partner, CEO-Elect at KPMG Lower Gulf added: “The participation of women in the UAE government is amongst the highest in the world, reflecting the UAE’s strong commitment priority in empowering women. There is no doubt that women leaders bring a fresh perspective and invaluable insights to leadership positions in both the public and private sector.”

Marketa Simkova, Partner and Head of People & Change at KPMG Lower Gulf said: “Women leaders bring a new dimension to the workforce with their empathy-driven management style and people-centric leadership. It is enormously encouraging to see that UAE female leaders are confident of their company’s future growth prospects as they take on pandemic-induced challenges head-on. Women leaders have also displayed pragmatism when it comes to technology and innovation – which will prove valuable to the business as they navigate challenges that lie ahead.”

Male and female leaders differed on ESG challenges, with 29% of women expressing the most pressing issue was the lack of an accepted global framework for measuring and disclosing ESG performance, compared to just 5% of men. Encouragingly, both men and women leaders expressed their desire to tackle diversity issues. About two-thirds of both men and women in the UAE agreed that stakeholders will continue to increasingly scrutinize companies’ performance on social issues, including employee diversity and inclusion.


Notes to Editors:

About KPMG

KPMG is a global organization of independent professional services firms providing Audit, Tax and Advisory services. KPMG is the brand under which the member firms of KPMG International Limited (“KPMG International”) operate and provide professional services. “KPMG” is used to refer to individual member firms within the KPMG organization or to one or more member firms collectively.

KPMG firms operate in 145 countries and territories with more than 236,000 partners and employees working in member firms around the world. Each KPMG firm is a legally distinct and separate entity and describes itself as such. Each KPMG member firm is responsible for its own obligations and liabilities.

KPMG International Limited is a private English company limited by guarantee. KPMG International Limited and its related entities do not provide services to clients.

For more detail about our structure, please visit home.kpmg/governance.

For media enquiries, please contact:

Mara Carpencu

+971 4 506 5555