The Inclusion Summit marks the dawn of a new era in the region

Winds of positive change in the workplace and society swept through Abu Dhabi’s Energy Centre, as The Inclusion Summit drew to a close. 

The two-day high-level platform held on November 9-10, 2023, brought together Ministers, policymakers, board directors, C-suite executives, senior decision-makers, people of determination, and youth to lead the conversation, drive change and pave the way for growth and innovation through the power of inclusion. 

More than 900 Attendees heard from over 100 international, regional and local speakers, from 20 industries, all describing the pressing need for true gender equality, diversity and inclusion. And part of the Summit was a successful attempt to create a new Guinness World Record for “the most pledges received for a gender equality in the workplace campaign in 24 hours.” 

In just 24 hours, more than 5,000 people signed the pledge, both at the Summit and online, allowing people from all over the world to take part in the record-breaking attempt. 

A majority of the pledges came from UAE-based people, underlining the UAE’s ongoing commitment to gender equality. 

Diana Wilde, co-founder of event organiser Aurora50, said: “This remarkable initiative underscores our commitment to promoting diversity, inclusivity, and equal opportunities for all. Now, we hope our successful record attempt will convert into real action and change over the coming year until the next summit.” 

The Inclusion Summit is supported by ADNOC, Aurora50’s anchor partner for its first initiative which accelerated gender balance in UAE boardrooms. 

Fatema Al Nuaimi, ADNOC Executive Vice President, Downstream Business Management, and Gender Balance Chairperson said: “ADNOC’s continued success is fostered through diversity and we are proud to support events like The Inclusion Summit which is reinforcing the importance of building a more inclusive and diverse workplace. At ADNOC, women are playing key roles in our ongoing transformational journey to a lower carbon future and occupy 20% of senior leadership positions. As a responsible global energy provider, we will continue to prioritize diversity and inclusion and provide the necessary support to enable our employees build successful careers and unlock their full potential.” 

ADNOC continues to make strong progress in driving gender balance and has increased female representation on site by 32% since 2017. The company also is looking to accelerate their gender equality efforts through their recent collaboration with the UAE Gender Balance Council. 

At the Summit, Emirates Global Aluminium, (EGA), a Gold Sponsor of the event, brought together eight leading companies in the UAE’s heavy industry sector to launch the ‘Challenger Programme’, The 

initiative aims to promote gender diversity in traditionally male-dominated industrial sector by sharing innovation and best practice on practical challenges all the companies face. 

EGA is already pioneering the role of women in heavy industry in the UAE. It employs over 470 women worldwide, in roles ranging from shift technicians to executive leadership. 

Women hold around 20 percent of UAE supervisory roles today. EGA aims to increase that to 25 percent by 2025, and to have 15 percent of all positions at the company held by women by 2026. 

There are two women on EGA’s executive committee, and the company secretary is a woman. Nine positions on subsidiary boards within the company are held by women. 

Abdulnasser Bin Kalban, Chief Executive Officer at Emirates Global Aluminium, said: “Promoting gender diversity is a priority for us at EGA, because diversity drives performance and is good for society. We have made good progress, but we believe we can achieve even greater results working together with like-minded organisations for the better of our industries and our nation. 

“That’s why EGA launched the Challenger Programme at The Inclusion Summit, bringing together major industrial companies in the UAE that are traditionally male dominated to advocate for the increased role of women in industry.” 

During the event, EGA and its partners in the Challenger Programme all took to the stage to talk about how and where they plan to champion gender balance in their industry. 

Renowned luxury and high end fashion retail group, Chalhoub Group, also took the opportunity to support the goals of The Inclusion summit with silver sponsorship. 

Chalhoub Group’s Wassim Eid, President People & Culture, said: “We are committed to a diverse, fair and inclusive culture achieved by implementing comprehensive policies and amplifying our people’s voices. Our focus remains on providing equitable opportunities, nurturing growth, maintaining work-life balance, driving efficiency, fostering collaboration and promoting healthy work practices. We are proud to be part of what could be a pivotal moment on the global stage for diversity, equity, and inclusion.” 

Legal professionals also marked their presence during the event, with sponsorship from international law firm, Baker McKenzie as well as regional firm, Hadef & Partners

Keri Watkins, Partner & Co-Chair of the Inclusion, Diversity & Equity Committee at Baker McKenzie commented: “Inclusion, diversity and equity (ID&E) underpin Baker McKenzie’s culture and values and are critical to our Firm strategy. A key pillar of our approach to ID&E focuses on humility – achieving more and multiplying our impact through collaboration. We are excited to be partnering with the Aurora50 in this year’s Inclusion Summit.” 

Dina Mahdi, Partner, Head of Regulatory & Government Advisory at Hadef & Partners, who joined the discussion about ‘Women in Leadership a game changer’, said: “We are focused on gender balance and increasing representation of women at senior levels – in fact all diversity – not just because it’s the right thing to do, but it’s vital for the culture, sustainability and performance of the firm and for our ongoing success.” 

The two-day hybrid event saw in-person and virtual attendees accessing unmatched opportunities to meet senior DEI influencers and decision makers, and to explore, debate and challenge modern DE&I initiatives – and the importance of integrating inclusion to business and UAE strategies. 

Delegates attending The Visionary Stage discovered more about high-level DEI challenges and strategies from global and local experts. These sessions then took a deep dive into specific areas of DEI, from digital inclusivity and People of Determination to Nationalisation and youth inclusion. 

The Impact Stage and exhibition played host to powerful women sharing their inspirational stories and spotlighting influential initiatives from Aurora50’s partners. 

Post event, all Summit attendees who signed the world-record breaking gender equality pledge will receive a digital toolkit and resources provided by ADNOC and Aurora50, describing how to take actionable steps towards creating a more inclusive workplace.