Spotlight: B20 Saudi Arabia Women in Business Action Council

16 April 2020
Ms. Rania Nashar


Ms. Rania Nashar

What does it mean to you personally to head the first-ever B20 Women in Business Action Council?

As the first female CEO at one of the largest banks in Saudi Arabia, I am a very passionate advocate on advancing female empowerment in the workplace—whether that’s ensuring we equip women with the right skills to succeed or ensuring they can break through the glass ceiling to get to the top. Through the creation of the Women in Business Action Council, the B20 Saudi Arabia is pioneering the idea of creating a cross-cutting, action-driven function that addresses the empowerment of women in business, and I’m deeply honored to be chosen to lead this role.

Can you provide an overview of the priorities for your Action Council?

The Women in Business Action Council is composed of more than 50 global business leaders from different G20 countries. It is co-chaired by eight other accomplished business leaders.

Our goal is to provide policy recommendations to address issues surrounding gender diversity and the economic empowerment of women. Data indicates that gender disparity persists in three distinct areas: employment, professional growth and career advancement. To help change that, our priority areas are focused on leveling the playing field for women, boosting female entrepreneurship and amplifying synergies between stakeholders by ensuring women’s voices are heard in the development of policies.

The B20 Saudi Arabia is committed to generating robust policy recommendations through a transparent, collaborative and inclusive process with all our members and relevant stakeholders. Following this principle, we are also working in seamless collaboration with the Women 20 (W20) and Labor 20 (L20) engagement groups to develop and advocate policy recommendations.

What are the goals of your action council?

The issue of gender inequality in the business place has been historically addressed by past G20 Presidencies, and we aim to think through new policy recommendations while also building upon past successes. The issue is that the participation of women in the workforce is still below the average, 28.5% to be exact, when compared to men. And when more women are employed, disparities in salary and opportunities to achieve leadership positions are still critical gaps impacting career progression.

The idea of addressing gender inequality across all levels through an action council allows us to provide action-oriented policy recommendations that are focused on issues we are facing today. Our goal is to create a strong legacy for the G20 in the years to come based on our approach and recommendations for this issue. We ultimately want to be able to create an environment to level the playing field between women and men in the workplace. This is ultimately good for business and healthy for the future of global economies.

What is your taskforce doing to address the current COVID-19 pandemic?

The COVID-19 pandemic poses an unprecedented global health crisis which imposes serious financial, economic, and societal consequences around the world. Women are at most risk as, globally, they make up 70% of workers in health and social sectors. The collaboration of governments and private sector is a necessity to mitigate the risk and impact of this global pandemic.

As millions of employees work from home for the first time and families become responsible for the continuity of their children’s education, it’s vital for businesses to re-examine the relationship between companies and employees, and to elevate their corporate culture to be mutually beneficial for both genders on the longer term.

The G20 must also offer support to female business owners and those at risk of losing their jobs. Female business owners have been facing challenges in financing their businesses from the start, and with the current economical slow down, they will be facing the risk of closure or bankruptcy. An important step in mitigating this is the creation of a crisis fund for female business owners of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and clear legislation from regulators that eradicates all forms of gender-based discrimination and unconscious bias in decisions around job cuts during this and future crises.

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