New Pathways Opened for Saudi Women
Localization strategies support female employment opportunities in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
By: Melissa Goertzen, Staff Writer
ARTICLE IN A GLANCE
- In September 2013, Saudi Aramco, GE and Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) launched the first all-female business process services center located in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
- Specifically, the initiative promotes a strong commitment to education and career opportunities for women in the Kingdom.
- The trend towards female sales representatives serving female customers is not confined to retail environments.
In September 2013, Saudi Aramco, GE and Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) launched the first all-female business process services center located in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It is estimated that the venture will create more than 3,000 jobs for professional women working in human resources, accounting, finance, and supply chain management services.
The announcement reflects the growing commitment in “Saudi Arabia’s localization strategies to diversify the Kingdom’s economy and enable the growth of a viable employment sector.” The overarching goal of the initiative is to provide support knowledge to corporations in the Kingdom as they adopt business and operating models that focus on core competencies.
The Saudi Gazette reported on the launch ceremony in Dhahran, headquarters of Saudi Aramco. During a keynote address, President and CEO Khalid A. Al-Falih discussed the company’s strategic intent: “In addition to the array of manufacturing and industrial jobs, services are an even bigger creator of wide ranging employment through an extensive range of office functions. In recent decades, the world, including Saudi Arabian enterprises, has been outsourcing these functions offshore. It’s time to bring those jobs home.”
Chairman and CEO of GE, Jeffrey Immelt, added: “GE is committed to partnering with the Kingdom in helping to achieve their social and economic growth aspirations and goals. Today, Saudi Arabia is placing high emphasis on creating jobs for its youth and women and we are proud to be supporting female employment opportunities in the Kingdom, offering placement opportunities and world class training programs.”
In the coming years, the three companies will partner with Saudi universities to launch specialized training programs that further promote the development of business-related skill sets and job creation within the region. Specifically, the initiative promotes a strong commitment to education and career opportunities for women in the Kingdom. All stakeholders involved agree that supporting female professionals will contribute to long-term economic progress.
The work being done by Saudi Aramco, GE and TCS hint at larger business and economic trends moving across the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. As the Arab News reports, “many Saudi women have taken up the challenge of working in the marketplace by sticking to working hours, dealing professionally with customers and showing the necessary skills to manage workplace issues.”
A growing number of retail shops are staffed by female employees. Their roles within these operations are diverse and include postings as cashiers, accountants and sales representatives. In addition, many bring valuable skill sets that promote sales and customer satisfaction. For instance, “many Saudi women workers are bilingual and have basic training in customer relations skills required to sell more goods and provide quality service.”
Recently, the Arab News found that women are being given responsibilities that were previously assigned to male employees. For instance, at commercial malls women were seen closing shop at 2:30 a.m. in accordance with Ramadan timing. When interviewed, one worker said, “a woman closing a store is just about a change in mindset. This is an ordinary job in today’s technological age. We have automatic electrical shutters that roll down at a click. Anybody can click a button and it should not be gender specific.”
The Arab News spoke with Mahmoud Ahmed, a cosmetic store owner, and found hiring women in shops that feature women’s products leads to increased sales. Ahmed says, “women have proven that they can do well in their role as cashiers and sales representatives. They are doing an excellent job in cosmetics and personal clothing stores.”
The trend towards female sales representatives serving female customers is not confined to retail environments.