Empowering Egyptian Women in Finance | Sarah Hosni

November 16,2021
Sarah Hosni

Photo by Liza Summer
Sarah Hosni

The financial sector in Egypt has always been a male-dominated industry, although it is proven that diversity is key to success. Diversity not only improves the innovation and scope of a business but also increases employee satisfaction and boosts performance. Hence, diversity is one of the reasons that women could empower the Finance Industry.

A former French employer, once stated that his team is full of women because women are getting things done; and that’s true, as the only words you hear from women are “I’ll figure it out” and “I’ll find a way”.

Women in the financial industry have added a variety of skills and knowledge to the financial ecosystem. According to researchers, women are excellent problem solvers and possess great interpersonal skills that can be proven highly advantageous and competitive in the business environment. 

Diversity is getting advanced year by year. Nasdaq, the globe’s largest market exchange, has approved a new rule that enhances gender diversity. In other words, Nasdaq requires the corporates that list shares on its exchange to meet specific gender and race requirements on their board in order to meet with the board diversity disclosure rule and set it as the new standard for corporate governance. According to Nasdaq’s new rule, corporates that are planning to be listed require to disclose whether they have women and people from diverse backgrounds on their boards or else to explain why they don’t have. 

In 2019, the Egyptian Financial Regulatory Authority (FRA) issued a historical degree to empower women in Finance. From 2020, FRA obliged both listing and NBFIs to place at least one woman on their board. FRA’s major plan is to implement the National Strategy for the Empowerment of Egyptian Women by 2030. According to the National Strategy, women should hold 30% of leadership positions in the country. Sustainable Stock Exchange Initiative (SSE) supports that this new rule came to boost their general development and women’s empowerment plan. 

It has been statistically proven that corporates with women on board reach 20% – 30% more noticeable results. In addition to that, the Chairman of FRA pointed out sufficient evidence that corporate with women on board outperform those with only men. 

More than 2000 public and private companies listed in the Egyptian Exchange, between 2014 and 2016, reported a positive impact from women’s representation on boards, according to International Finance Corporation’s (IFC) study. IFC supports that companies with higher women representation achieve higher profitability and better financial strength, with 2% higher growth in return on equity, 4% higher return on assets and 5% higher return on sales.

Companies that consider the diversity in the board tend to prefer equity financing and have less reliance on debt. Private companies who constitute of both genders (with at least 25% females) hit double the rate of profit growth and greater financial capacity. Along with that, the same corporates shows 8% higher growth in return on equity and assets and 7% return on sales. 

All the evidence above, lead the road for women in Finance. The world pace in the era of diversity and women have more unique opportunities in the Finance industry than ever before. A wide variety of positions require a range of diverse set of skills and expertise, and women with that skillset are currently at the top of it. Job positions that require a leadership background give women in the finance industry the opportunity to gain the skills and knowledge needed to lead the future and shape the change. 

Why don’t we think of awarding a women-specific scholarship in Egypt as a way of enhancing diversity? A scholarship would give the opportunity to young women in Egypt to demonstrate their leadership skills and provide them with a secured position in the financial industry. It is worth mentioning that the creation of a women-specific financial scholarship will prove the support of corporate firms for diversity in the work place as part of their ESG strategy. This type of scholarship could work as a gift for women’s education and career in Egypt.

As a great supporter of the women’s empowerment in Financial Industry, I took the initiative and launched a Women’s Leadership Program. The Women’s Leadership program will be established as a new online mentorship program that will train women but also help them to advance their network within Egypt’s financial Industry. For the establishment of this pioneer program, I am collaborating with a number of market leaders, and as a team we are trying to provide new opportunities to women and enhance diversity in businesses. Women’s Leadership Program aims to show the importance of diversity along with creating a stable, creative and profitable environment where everyone can acquire shares in the profits. 

It is quite admiring that in Egypt many women-led the example and opened the way for other young women to pursue career opportunities in Finance. Women like Dr Mona Zulficar, Mrs Niveen El-Tahri, Mrs Rana Adawi, H.E. Rania Elmashat and many more opened a path to women’s empowerment and created opportunities for career progression in Finance.

During the last years, progression around gender and racial equity has globally taken large improvements and the representation of minorities is rising. However, the empowerment of Egyptian women in Finance needs much more support and enhancement to reach men’s power and finally manage equality. 

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