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The business world of today is transforming at a surprising speed. Economic and Political changes appear to be happening universally as nations switch from command economies to demand economies, autocratic governments make a move in the direction of democratic system, and new civil institutions are build by monarchies. These major transformations have created a lot of opportunities for women who have a desire to prove themselves professionally and constructively help in improving the health of global economy. Women in developed market economies, at present, own approximately 30% of all businesses and number of professional women in Asia, Eastern Europe, Africa, and United States are growing at a rapid pace.
Conversion to a market economy, in several countries of the world, intimidates to increase gender discrimination. A few of these changes are purely the inheritance of a gender inequality that subsisted before the economic and political reforms. Other changes are a sign of a return to long-established customs and values that downgraded females to an inferior standing in the society. Gender imbalance lessens as nations become more egalitarian, hence, presenting a more dynamic and productive environment for both genders. This paper examines the superior decision making qualities of women that often go unappreciated and how professional women across the world can positively affect the global economy and lessen the brunt of global financial crisis
The areas where success and competence of women as professionals have been observed are commercial banking, marketing consumer goods, public relations, financial services, insurance, transport and delivery and other industries that are related to services. In this process, professional women act as job creators, innovators, and contributors in economic security of the country. Women can also supply the affiliated businesses with novel ideas, innovations, expertise, supplies, components, raw materials, and other services of the business. Professional women, ultimately, will be acknowledged for what they do, who they are, and how significantly they can affect the health of global economy. The global economy is transforming and it is bearing a face of a woman.
Purpose of the study
In the past two decades there has been a move away from looking at the issue of gender discrimination that have an effect on one sex only i.e. women. It is therefore now common to locate women in every profession and at every level all over the world contending their male colleagues. Many international studies have been conducted on decision making powers of women and their management and leadership issues but in most of them the population of only United States was taken as a sample.
Although a few studies on women's role in the local and global economy have been conducted in UAE by organizations of UN, and other associations like Women Action Forum, however they are without any definite research conclusions and end at the wheel of an analysis. This research paper makes an attempt to take forward previous research and international conclusions as well as the data collected for this research to identify if professional women all over the world in general and of UAE in particular are equipped with qualities to make supreme decision and can they play an effective role in lessening the impact of global financial crisis.
Do women have the capabilities to manage and make effective decisions in the business world?
Can women play an effective role in solving the global financial crisis?
Professional Women around the world in general, and women of UAE in particular, have all the qualities to play a constructive role in improving the financial stability of their nations and can play a positive role in reducing the global financial crisis faced by the entire world economies at present.
This study is a mix a both qualitative and quantitative research. Interviews and questionnaire are the two information tools that are used during the course of this research. The reason for using both types of researches is to gather the maximum amount of data without having any validity or reliability issues.
Secondary data was collected from research papers. For more scholarly sources online libraries and research databases such as Emerald, Questia and Ebsco were used. Data collected through online libraries is not only relevant and reliable it extensively covers our areas of research, though in bits and pieces. Online versions of major newspaper and magazines such as Newsweek, Business Week and marketing books also provided the information needed along with a few journals. Google' search engine gave access to a number of news paper items.
We used Interviews as well as questionnaires. The industry was divided in two main parts:
Locals (Big and small)
Companies that were included in our study comprised of: McDonalds, Standard Chartered bank Dubai, Fortune group, Dubai, and National bank of Dubai.
We conducted interviews of the heads of the departments in each organization we visit, the interviews were open ended followed by a questionnaire to be filled in order to get the desired result in terms of numbers.
After interviewing, the results were drawn and Comparisons were made not only across departments but also between the various organizations under study.
Sample and Sample method:
There were a total of 4 companies which were studied, no sampling method was required for the evaluation of questionnaire as the sample size is not large and each questionnaire was evaluated.
As we were interested in knowing the qualities of women which makes them good decision makers and suitable for solving global financial crisis, We chose to conduct interviews with Mr. Waqar Hasan, manager Human relations of fortune Group, Mr. Sher Jaan Qaisrani, Associate Director Standard Chartered Bank - Dubai, Mr Salaam Al Shaksy, CEO of Dubai Bank, Michael Tomalin group Chief Executive National bank of Dubai and a few other senior executives of both local and international banks operating in UAE(who requested to keep their appointments and names anonymous) and issues related to the role of women in improving the health of the economy were discussed.
Informal, conversational interviews were taken and in most of the cases no predetermined questions were asked. This strategy kept the discussions open and adaptable to the nature and priorities of the interviewees. In some cases, however, questionnaires were used where open ended questions were thought to waste time and bring ambiguity in the research.
While discussing about the decision making qualities of professional women, the majority respondents thought that with growing awareness and education, the true talent of professional women have come forward. Most of the respondents showed their appreciation towards the growing number of females in the labor force and representation of professional women in higher management positions. The interviewees also believed that the market of UAE is very different from the rest of the world. The native citizens of the country are not really advanced as far as technological breakthroughs are concerned. They, according to one of the managers, are yet to adopt the latest technologies and internet use in their daily lives. However female segment has showed a good progress in technology which has given them an edge over their male colleagues.
Theories related to the participation of women, their movements, and rights emphasize the role of transformation and economic development (modernization), democracy (social equality), and educational success (Giannini, 2001). Different factors may be highlighted by the Theories of liberalism, gender stratification theory and Modernization theory, but the thread common in all the theories is that institutional and structural transformations are desired to ensure the availability of supply of women for municipal activities, employment, and participation in political activities, likewise to ensure a demand for women in different fields.
Options of modernization theory draw attention to the role of economic development and industrialization, together with attainment of education, in bringing attitudinal and cultural transformation favorable to "post material" principles of women's rights and human rights. Liberal theories stress that democratic system and social equality is a precondition for effective participation of women in the economy (Elkins, 2001).
Theorists supporting Gender stratification uphold that urbanization and industrialization of the countries bring about increased level of education for females, which lead to extension of their role in the public field and consequently role and society status problems, particularly for women belonging to middle class.
Employer favoritism or prejudice, according to the economic theory, is pricey and should thus not be happening in the long run (Weick, 1996). Companies who are unable to control employer discrimination in long run are forced out of business by societal factors. When observationally comparing corresponding men and women, it is observed that male employees are more expected to be promoted on higher positions "before time" or "on time" than women, are expected to get better salaries and perks and are more likely to be involved in strategic planning.
More current studies focusing on gender disparities between men and women business employees, however, found that female employees' approach to management is totally different from their male colleagues. In the insurance industry, For example, a survey of more than a thousand female employees found that women value client relationships more than men. Another similar study also revealed that women have more skills to manage risk efficiently.
Chaganti and Parasuraman, (1996) conducted a study to examine gender differences in objectives, performance, management practices and strategies in businesses. Three performance criteria selected by the researchers were
Sales of previous year,
Employment growth in three years
Average return on assets in last three years
The study signified that female employees were far more apprehensive about the quality issues than male employees, and held opposing views on management practices like operation planning, formalization, employment of workforce, and on issues related to the planning of organizational resources.
Leadership in the beginning of 1990's, as discussed by Warren Bennis (cited in Giannini, 2001), needed qualities like creative problem solving, empowerment, concern for employees, instinctive management, and the skill to build a vision. Feminism advocates that the entire society benefits from gaining knowledge to redefine management and valuing its numerous types.
A lot of the older literature, however, talks about the obvious defenselessness and incapacity of feminism. Women, owing to this, have had to struggle on the redefinition of the terms connected with power and authority. Bloom and Monro (cited in Giannini, 2001), revealed that the majority women wish for a professional setting in which they can involve themselves and participate and carry out a universal change in a framework of the community and without surrendering their joy of being women.
The qualities that have been usually credited to females such as caring for others and shared practices, two way communication, collective decision-making, and decentralized hierarchies are now seen as necessary to efficient management. Sixth sense of Women is an additional skill that makes them better decision makers and effective leaders. This talent to identify patterns and issues and stockpile them for use in future is usually discounted.
Many women, worldwide, are working professionals. Professionalism comes from a person's inventive spirit into continuing creation of job, and financial security. Female employees bring dedication and truthfulness because they are concerned about industrial growth, economic empowerment and modernization. Globalization of economies has positively supported the representation of female employees in the economy of different countries.
Most organizations, today, recognize the significance of having strategies ready that offer equality of opportunity in order that everybody can improve their performance through learning and development. The challenge of getting women into higher-level management positions, however, is hard in many countries including some of the highly developed economies. Whilst the percentage of women in the labor force has improved considerably during the last 10 years, a small number of them have made it to the top. Particularly, in US, women comprise over 50% of the labor force; however, they consist of below 5% of senior management positions. Gains have been sluggish. Also in early nineties, merely three out of every hundred top executive positions in Fortune 500 corporations were secured by women. There is certainly a glass ceiling - an indiscernible blockade that stops a lopsided number of women from going up to top corporate and use their qualities to improve the financial health of the global economy.
A latest report of United Nations founded that economic growth is directly connected with the advancement of women in different fields. In countries where female sector has made progress, economic development has generally been stable. On the other hand, in nations where females have been oppressed and discriminated, the economic health has been sluggish. The earlier survey conducted by the UN in 1995 highlighted two major changes that had taken place in the past decade which had facilitated the environment for female employees in the economy. One was the institution of official and legal parity for women. The other was the provision of equal access of education and training of women. These changes have gradually encouraged women to come forward and avail the opportunities waiting for them and prove themselves.
Women are one of the motivating forces of the global financial system of the 21st century. They are considered as a promising economic force that simply cannot be overlooked by the policymakers. Latest studies done in a number of countries by NFWBO (the National Foundation of Women Business Owners) signify that businesses in which Women have been given authority and decision making powers have greater returns, are more hopeful and confident about the prospects of their business and their strategies are more focused on the expansion of the business than organizations that are dominated by men.
Women in UAE
Women of the United Arab Emirates in the past were discriminated at the workplace and in educational institutes in favor of male applicants. There was a glass ceiling or degree beyond which a small number of women advanced. And there was also a lack of business strategies to attain equal employment opportunity practices. Female employees mainly worked in staff positions instead of line positions where there was more of a career track to the managerial group and greater bonus and recompense eligibility and there were not enough provisions within the companies for supervising the total compensation systems that determined salaries, bonuses, incentives, and perks to make sure non-discriminatory practices.
Today, with the continuing advancement of the society of UAE and the vibrant transformation process that has been going over the past four decades, the strategic vision of the government for women has changed drastically and is now based on offering them with the required tools to attain professional distinction (Moghadam, 2006). This approach of the government aspires to strengthen and employ role of women in public service along with the private sector and to make sure that all professional tracks encourage their participation if they choose to pursue them. The UAE, in essence, appreciates that it is a nationwide imperative for female sector to play their role in the development process of the country and also to improve the financial health of the global economy.
A survey on Millennium Development Goals was conducted by the UNDP (The United Nations Development Program) in 2007. The survey acknowledged the optimistic results of the target-oriented policies of the government of UAE in numerous areas, including strategies to empower women (Fang, 2009). It was particularly recognized that the government legislations in the United Arab Emirates do not show favoritism on the basis of gender regarding education, career opportunities or the quality of other services offered. The report further identified that educational indicators of the country prove that achievements of women in the sector of education have achieved the targeted levels, and in certain cases, even exceeded that of men, the reason being the strong aspiration among women to become economically sovereign, competent and professionally successful.
The involvement of professional women to the economy of the country has significantly increased from around 10% in the year 1986 to more than 33% percent in 2007 (roughly 3.5 percent average annual growth) (fang, 2009).
UAE women, today, comprise around 59% of the total labor market of UAE in diverse fields like law, healthcare, commerce, engineering, computer technology, science, media, oil industry, university professors, and the departments of government.
Qualities of women which make them good decision makers and strong candidates for solving global financial crisis
To study the management and decision making qualities of female employees in the practical world, the employees working in executive positions at the earlier mentioned organizations in UAE were observed. The observation concluded that the functions of female executives employed at the organizations were highly suitable for long-term success of the company, the local economy and for improved health of global economy.
Planning, the very first tool of the functions of management is the process of setting objectives for the business and determining what should be done to accomplish them. The planning procedure determines the success or failure of the management. It is the rational thinking of how to achieve goals and making the sound decisions regarding what needs to be done to reach the organizational objectives. Planning is not as simple as one might assume because it needs an intensive effort to come out with an agenda that would trouble-free the organizational work. Beginning is difficult, but once it has started then everything moves smoothly.
Female employees are observed to be more efficient in collecting data that would facilitate in making informed decisions. The information collected is also used by them to ensure improved actions for accomplishing the goals of the Organization. It is also observed that female professionals employ this process to make future plans, like a draft to forecast any likely problems, make a decision on the actions to avoid complicated issues and courageously face aggressive competitors (Gentile, 1991). The importance of this step of management is understood as a valuable tool in the process of decision making by female executives.
Female managers are observed to be good planners. They have very clear objectives in front of them and they communicate them clearly to their subordinates. The entire workforce of the organization, as a result, becomes well aware of the organizational objective and the importance of customers.
In the last few years, the female employees of UAE have taken many steps to become more forceful, aggressive and competitive. High level of education and training has played a significant role in polishing their qualities (Young, 2004).
Customer focused approach
It is observed that female executives generally focus on customers as important element for organizational change and renewal. They sturdily support the point that strong firm-customer ties promote innovation (Argyris, 1996). Empirical evidence has been found that when customers are part of the innovation process; strong ties seem to allow for change. Female executives, understanding the importance of customers, are more likely to take advantage of it then men.
Non financial motivation techniques used by female employees
There are a few basic tasks that are carried out by the female managers in general to motivate employees to achieve business objectives and keep them informed about all the latest happenings within the business. The female employees successfully:
Engage employees in planning
Make sure employees know the desired result
Make sure employees are familiar with their responsibilities
Give feedback to the employees on their strengths and weaknesses.
Make employees aware of agendas and commitments
Ensure that employees know that progress would be observed (Koplin, 1996)
Structuring the activities of the organization, to reach the objectives identified in the planning process, is extremely important. "Organizing" involves the appointment of employees by the managers to different tasks or responsibilities that are blended together for the development of single, most important purpose "to accomplish the organizational goals".
Female executives usually know their subordinates well and their strengths and weaknesses what they are good at, to organize the most precious of all the resources a business has, "the employees". They achieve this objective by appropriate staffing of the work division, introducing training programs for the employees, and organizing all the employees into an efficient and productive team (Katulis, 2005).
Two way communication used by female managers
Lack of communication or lack of defined communication channels within an organization are also believed to be a major cause of confusion in employees. One way communication or confusion between what was said and what was perceived may lead to costly mistakes in today's business world.
Female managers are generally known for keeping the lines of communication open between different departments to eliminate any possible barriers that hinder the process of communication. Women expect open and straightforward communication both between different departments and between different layers of the hierarchy and when reached at the position of executives, take the responsibility to lead from the front and demonstrate a wonderful blend of leadership skills and management to get the most out of their subordinates. Female decision makers also effectively delegate important tasks to the employees to give them a sense of responsibility and make them feel important. Employees, when assigned meaningful duties, feel that they are a part of the organization and it helps in improving employee's level of efficiency and also results in high morale.
With no communication gap by the managers, employees are expected to make smarter decisions and taking more possession for their work product. Employees, with female managers, are kept knowledgeable about company financial aims and objectives and performance which, in turn, produce healthier employees. The proposal is to give employees a better understanding of where the company is heading towards, how it is doing, and how their own jobs affect company profits so that they will be more motivated to perform well and make creative suggestions. This type of feminine management approach seeks to replace the traditional "us" and "them" mentality with a "we" approach under which everyone benefits if the company does well.
The success of any organization is determined by the type and quality of leadership that is exhibited by the managers. Leadership is a procedure by which an individual controls and influences others to achieve a goal and leads the organization in such a way that makes it more unified and reasoned.
Female leaders apply their leadership qualities, such as viewpoints, principles, beliefs, spirit, knowledge, and expertise to carry out this process. The most fundamental leadership concept of the majority female executives is that top management should lead by example in managing and implementing the change. And it all begins with promising job security for those who meet job expectations.
The controlling process ensures that plans are being implemented properly. The main purpose of controlling is simple - to ensure that plans are accomplished by the employees and that the actual performance of the business meets the targeted objectives. Controlling also helps in ensuring that the contributions made by the individual employees and teams are consistent with the operational and strategic plans of the business.
Women generally emphasize on a few rules to have efficient work systems and processes. The first and the most important point is that time is perishable. This means that it cannot be saved. In fact, time can only be spent. The other rule of time is that time is irreplaceable (Gregory, 2003). Nothing else will do, particularly in relationships. Employees are encouraged to limit themselves, because female decision makers believe there is a limit of how much the employees can do in a day. But meeting deadlines is something that is embedded in the employee's minds.
Female head also make sure that changes are implemented gradually so that employees have time to learn their new skills. Also activities such as team-building and process consultation are designed and led by line managers, who receive prior training in the use of such techniques. The thinking here is that employees respond better to line managers than to external consultants. Women as executives are always looking for record-breaking team players who share their passion and love for the brand.
Ethical business practices
Unethical business practice is a real threat to the prospect of every business. Businesses moral values as a matter is one hundred times more authoritative than the internet or globalization and can wipe out the business in a matter of days. To make things worse, principles of business ethics are altering swiftly in reaction to unsystematic events which capture public thoughts.
Fraud among organizations is a happening that will hold importance well into the near future. When a business becomes fraudulent the chain of command becomes a ladder of dishonesty and self-indulgence. Corporate management always wants to add more status and power. To do this they put those guidelines into practice that they hope will create earnings. When the moral methods fail, fraud and deception become more dominant.
In today's business world, there is no responsibility more important for administrators than to establish that their employees are keeping up with good business ethics and best moral practices, are completely responsive to latest developments, and are doing every possible thing that can be done to operate in line with the utmost standards of ethical conduct, honesty, and compliance (Zoepf,2007).
Female decision makers are less likely to make unethical decisions and involve them selves in fraudulent activities and are more likely to keep a close watch on their sub ordinates to make sure they also follow ethical guidelines. This, in turns, make them more suitable for higher positions in this time of global crisis in which no organization can bear the risk of financial frauds.
Open book management used by professional women
Female executives are more supportive of Open-book management which entails showing the employees the thorough financial statements for the company, training them how to understand financial results and then sharing the results with them on a habitual basis. By helping the employees understand how their dealings impact productivity; businesses increase their answerability and tie their every day efforts to the firm's success.
These professional women believe that when equipped with responses, employees can innovate more liberally and assign resources more logically. They will make smarter decisions and take more possession for their work product. Employees who are kept knowledgeable about company financial aims and objectives and performance make healthier employees (Rogers, 1994). The idea behind this management technique is to give employees a better understanding of where the company is heading towards, how it is doing, and how their own jobs affect company profits so that they will be more motivated to perform well and make creative suggestions. Open-book management seeks to replace the traditional "us" and "them" mentality with a "we" approach under which everyone benefits if the company does well.
Clear job description
Confusion in what actually is expected from the employees is also a major reason that leads to inefficiency among the employees. The unavoidable uncertainty of economic conditions and global financial crisis has already led to high level of stress and anxiety among the workforce. Further confusion related to job description cannot be tolerated by most of the businesses. Women executives, with their excellent communication skills, make very clear to all the employees as to what is expected from them and what their areas of responsibility are. This makes the employees feel comfortable about their work, which results in high efficiency.
Time constraint of less than a month to conduct and report the research
Scope of the study is restricted to executives of some companies operating in UAE only.
Difficulty in maintaining an accurate research
Lack of co-operation from some interviewees
Non-availability of the executives at the time of interview because of sudden events
Although women in UAE have attained a good position in business organizations and are productively helping the country in this time of global financial crisis, there are many countries in the world where women are still being oppressed and their professional competence is restricted by a glass ceiling. It is recommended that in order to benefit from the true potential of professional women in dealing with financial crisis, awareness programs should be initiated to encourage women to show their full competence.
The preference or favoritism given to male employees over female employees in the workplace can, at times, be very difficult to identify. The management of any business may have a few female employees in key appointments, but seldom their number match with that of the number of male employees holding important positions. When ever an equally competent female employee is overlooked for a promotion because of her gender, the company has discriminated illegitimately. The selection of new female politicians, the encouragement of more women in board of adjudicators, and the backing of more female employees in the place of work will enhance the chances of equal treatment for both genders.
The management of organizations must create a place of work that is full of ethnicity and high self-starters in order to give women an environment where they can work comfortably and work with their full potential to make sound decisions. Making female workers feel good about them will encourage them to solve problems.
Despite of all the positive moves, women still need support to bring forward their true potential of solving the global financial crisis through sound counseling to help in eradicating or reducing any educational or emotional barriers upsetting them.