A properly diversified and Emirati led workforce has many benefits and can help local energy organisations achieve a competitive advantage and grow their business particularly during times of economic uncertainty.
A diverse and Emirati led workforce brings together a wide variety of skillsets, experience and cultural backgrounds to enable companies to fully penetrate and take advantage of business opportunities within the local, regional and international markets. A workforce which has a healthy population of Emirati nationals is also one which tends to be more stable, less transient and which ensures the workforce is committed and focussed on the long term success of the business operations within the Middle East.
There are particular advantages to businesses operating within the oil and gas sector in the business hub of Dubai, where local expertise and knowledge is extremely valuable. The wide variety of international partners and clients to engage with within this region means that a diverse and Emirati led workforce is not just an added benefit, it can become a crucial element to a successful business.
This paper explores what is meant by diversity in the workplace and discusses our experience and technical guidance on Emiratisation and other legal issues which all energy companies in the region face in relation to the management of a diverse, effective workforce. We shall discuss the business case for diversity and inclusion with reference to successful examples of diversity in a number of international organisations. We shall also consider the challenges and opportunities of increasing diversity within the energy sector specifically, with reference to the various nationalisation policies adopted in jurisdictions across the Middle East and Gulf region.
In light of the continued fluctuations in oil prices, energy companies are continuing to face challenging market conditions. The international recruitment organisation Hays, in its annual oil and gas salary survey, recently estimated that the expatriate workforce in the UAE had declined by 9 percent compared with the previous year. This reduction in the workforce, coupled with an increasing focus on nationalisation policies, is increasingly impacting on the energy sector. Key issues such as Emiratisation within the UAE have ensured that prioritising diversity in workforce management has become a key focus within the oil and gas sector.
To successfully implement an effective diversity and Emiratisation strategy, businesses must not only place diversity at the centre of its workforce but also take on board the lessons learned from industry-wide experience of diversity related implementation issues to ensure best practices are followed throughout its business operations including recruitment, employee management (including the complaint/disciplinary situations, and the performance review, promotion, reorganisation and redundancy processes). Research shows that organisations choosing to emphasise the importance of diversity will find they have a more engaged workforce, increase operational effectiveness and maintain higher retention rates for key employees. Diversity is important because we live in a global world that has become increasingly interconnected. It therefore follows logically that more diverse companies and organisations are achieving better levels of performance.