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            'Equality is not just a women's issue,' says Claire Roper-Browning

            The theme for International Women’s Day 北京体彩网官方网站 advocates for gender equality around the world. It reminds us that we are responsible for our actions and can actively choose to challenge stereotypes and celebrate the achievements of women.

            Our exclusive interview with Claire Roper-Browning from Heriot-Watt University in Dubai speaks on the gender imbalance in the corporate world and how we can address them and find solutions.

            The theme for the International Women’s Day 北京体彩网官方网站 campaign is #EachforEqual; promoting Equality as a business issue, rather than just a women’s issue. What does equality mean to you? 

            Women and girls represent half of the world’s population and, therefore, also half of its potential. A 2019 study by the World Bank however found that the share of women in the workforce was only 39% globally.

            There are several reasons for this. The biggest one, world over, is family responsibilities such as cleaning, cooking and childcare. Both women and men report that the biggest barrier for women in the workforce is the struggle to balance careers with family responsibilities. These responsibilities are necessary for the well-being of societies as a whole, but when women shoulder this load single-handedly, it often means their careers take a backseat.

            Another is the lack of safe and accessible transportation. Women who report being affected by this face harassment on their daily commute, which is a deterrent to being part of the workforce. And finally, a section of society believe it is unacceptable for a woman to have a paid job outside the 北京体彩网官方网站 – studies report 20% of men and 14% of women feel this way. These women report that their immediate family disapproved of their decisions to work outside the 北京体彩网官方网站 and this was the reason they gave up their employment.

            Given these reasons, it is quite clear the solution lies in both men and women coming together and finding ways to help women participate in the workforce and bring about a change in societal attitudes. The solution does not lie in leaving the onus on women to find a way to manage this. As a result, promoting equality in the workspace is a business issue and not just a women’s issue. Additionally, legislation and policy reform should prevent gender discrimination and ensure access to adequate maternity as well as paternity leave and other basic social cover measures.

            What steps can we take to address the gender imbalance in the corporate world?

            As a full-time working mother of two children, I believe there are several ways by which we can address the gender imbalance in the corporate world as follows:

            • Focus on career progression – A big reason why experienced female workers change jobs is when there is a lack of career advancement and opportunity in their workplace. Having a strong career progression plan in place can be motivating for the female worker and help retain her.
            • Equal pay for equal work – despite being a subject of much discussion, the pay gap remains a reality around the world. A 2019 study by PayScale estimated that the median salary for men is roughly 21 percent higher than the median salary for women. Women deserve better than this and the corporate world should undertake measures to correct this.
            • Create a culture of inclusiveness and diversity – Corporate culture must give women a voice and a chance to be heard. If that does not happen, they will most likely leave. This involves creating an organizational environment that values diversity and the different perspectives arising from that and works to get rid of common biases.
            • Organizational changes – Diversity alone does not create inclusive workplaces; sometimes organizational changes are also necessary in order to reduce gender inequality. Some examples are of businesses hiring more senior-level female workers and promoting qualified women from within, considering measures such as linking manager bonuses to achievement of diversity and inclusion objectives, and creating a culture where employees feel a sense of belonging and acceptance. Such practices will not only help women stay in the workforce, it will also spur innovation, retain valuable talent and reduce attrition rates.

            Is there a woman in history that you look up to, who has molded you into the person you are today? 

            A woman in history I would look up to would be my grandmother. She was a strong and ambitious woman, who raised six children while working full-time, during a time when the world was a much harder place with far fewer facilities and luxuries than we have access to today. Her success despite all these challenges motivates me to work as hard as possible and do my best every single day in the workplace as well as at 北京体彩网官方网站.

            There are still young girls who want to branch out into Business or Marketing but lack the confidence to do so. What advice would you give to them? How were you encouraged or motivated to get where you are today? 

            My advice would be as follows – first, pick the right programme in University after careful evaluation. There are numerous degree paths available for those who want a career in Business or Marketing, and outside of the bachelor’s degree, each marketing degree will usually be tailored for a specific purpose of objective. I have had a varied career spanning marketing for the Manchester United Football Club as well as working across various high-quality education institutions, but the starting point for all of these has been my master’s degree in Business Administration from Durham University Business School. It is therefore important to be clear about your goals and what you want to achieve.

            Second, whatever programme you do should equip you with hard skills as well as soft skills such as creative problem solving, presentation skills, listening skills, teamwork and more. Studies increasingly show that the future of work hinges on soft skills and people who develop these are likely to be most successful. It is worth noting that women are at an advantage here and have always been seen as good at soft skills such as teamwork and communication.

            Your role at the Heriot-Watt University Dubai Campus has been vital in ensuring that the university secures five-star ratings from the KHDA. What steps do you take to keep the momentum going each year? 

            It was indeed a proud moment for us when our campus was named one of Dubai’s top universities and awarded five stars by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), the supreme educational quality assurance and regulatory authority of the Government of Dubai.

            As always, our success is measured entirely by our students’ success. As a higher education institute, we will keep this momentum going by focusing our efforts every single day on recruiting the best potential students and equipping them with skills to help them build their future. When we see our students in positions of great responsibility and creating an impact wherever they are, we know we have been successful at what we do. Employers around the world actively seek out our graduates because they are work ready. Our approach is career focused and relevant to the needs of business and industry. We are known for our applied teaching and research, informed and shaped by real world needs. Our success lies in the fact that 95% of our graduates are in employment or further study within 6 months of graduation.

            We also recognize that education today is evolving, and we are always looking to understand and analyse the pulse of the market, what students are looking for and which skills are relevant in a competitive marketplace and offering courses in line with that. Our portfolio is constantly updated to reflect the needs of the market and to keep pace with the dynamism of the UAE.

            About the Speaker

            Claire Roper-Browning is the Head of Marketing and Student Recruitment for Heriot-Watt University’s Dubai campus. In this role, she brings a deep understanding of the student journey, success in identification and marketing of the programme value proposition and works effectively with a wide range of stakeholders as part of the student enrollment process.

            She also works closely with schools in the UAE and internationally to engage their students with a range of initiatives offered by Heriot-Watt University, including outreach for on-campus activities. She holds an MBA from Durham University Business School. Claire is an avid photographer and likes to train with her community triathlon team in her free time.

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