Gender equality and inclusion in Jordan’s private sector

Jordanian women’s participation in the formal labour market ranks one of the lowest in the world – merely 13,2% work in the formal sector (2013), and the numbers are decreasing, despite the fact that women constitute the majority of students in tertiary education. This is a problem, both for the women themselves and the companies in not being able to exploit their full potential.

The main cause of women’s absence in the labour market is the many barriers, as well as the labour market being poorly designed for women employees. This plays an important role, both in terms of the working environment and culture and the women’s role in the family being main responsible for children and the domestic chores.

Therefore, the Business Development Center, in cooperation with KVINFO, has developed a method for human resource (HR) managers and other leading employees of 10 of Jordan’s biggest companies in different sectors, such as the medical industry and biotech, telecommunication and the financial sector.

By working with large and well established companies, the goal is to reduce the barriers for women in the labour market in Jordan, both within the companies themselves and the labour market in general and ultimately increase women’s participation, retention and their share in management of the Jordanian labour market.

The participating companies have already completed a series of workshops focused on recruitment, gender equality in the workplace, and diversity and inclusion, in order to uncover barriers that can attract and maintain women employees.

The next phase includes, among other, a workshop on “inclusion nudging” as a tool to change the behavior within the organization. Besides the HR managers, the workshop will also include the companies’ executive management. In addition, the companies will receive individual counseling on how to adjust their HR policies and working environment to incorporate inclusion, diversity and gender equality. During the counseling, the companies’ concrete practice will be discussed, and experiences and feedback will be included through network meetings with the participating companies.

A key activity of the project was a study tour to Denmark in May 2015. The Jordanian HR managers and leaders visited a series of large companies, such as the Maersk Group, Arla Foods, Grundfos, TDC, and IBM to learn about their work and experiences. In return, the Danish companies gained knowledge of the labour market in a Middle Eastern country, such as Jordan. Besides the concrete process of the project with 10 participating companies, the results of their work will be communicated widely in the Jordanian society and business community.

By the end of the project in 2016, there will be arranged a conference in Jordan where the results will be gathered and presented, and the companies’ experiences with gender equality and inclusion in the local Jordanian context will be presented.

One of the participating companies, Zain – a regional leading mobile and data services operator, has started the process of getting their efforts written and described in a business case, which will be published and used in order to present the benefits gained for the companies.

The target group for the conference, and the media effort, will not only focus on the Jordanian business community but also, in particular, on political actors, as many of the barriers that keep women absent from the labour market is a result of the interaction of legislation, level of public service and other politically determined framework.

Partner

Business Development Center (BDC) – is a non-profit organization committed to fostering economic development and public reform in Jordan and the Middle East. KVINFO has worked with BDC since 2011, on improving women’s conditions in the Jordan’s labour market. The current project is the largest and most far-reaching, in terms of both number and size of the participating companies.

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