How Bloomberg is Amplifying Women’s Voices in the Middle East
There’s little question that women are underrepresented in the global media sector. While companies say they are improving on this, a quick flipping of the channels on cable television often reveals man after man after man at the anchor desk, particularly in the business and finance media world. Women continue to chip away at that glass ceiling, and of course, more have entrenched themselves into leadership positions at top global companies. Scoring a coveted “analyst” guest spot on a news show could help open more doors. But many women professionals are not media trained.
Bloomberg says it is striving to change this dynamic with an initiative designed to get more women media trained so they can go in front of the camera.
Bloomberg’s funding of the New Voices program provides one-on-one media training for women executives in business and finance so they can be prepared to make appearances on various news outlets, including, of course, Bloomberg. The program recently expanded to Dubai.
So why, do you ask, is Bloomberg extending this effort into the Middle East, of all places?
For a moment, toss aside any assumptions you may have about the Middle East and the status of women there—especially when it comes to the United Arab Emirates. Furthermore, many expatriate women working in the Middle East are doing so because they have opportunities otherwise unavailable (or not as well-paying) at home.
Walk into any office in the UAE, and not only is there a good chance that women outnumber men, but you’ll also find many women in senior positions. Part of the answer is that the UAE’s government, which has long sought influence on the global stage at a proportion far greater than its population (9.5 million, with about 88 per cent of it expats), realizes it has to walk the walk. Hence the country’s leadership over the years has launched aggressive education, training and hiring programs for women—including one for its audacious space program.
Culturally, in many ways, the Gulf is still a boy’s world, so there are plenty of incentives for women to work outside the home. Many women in the UAE feel compelled to have to work harder to get ahead. So quite frankly, they do and often find themselves promoted into high-profile positions as a result.
By the way, this transformation in the UAE is reflected in the makeup of the country’s cabinet—which at last count includes nine women out of 32 members total (28 per cent). Contrast that ratio with the U.S. cabinet at the Trump White House, which now has four women out of 21 seats—you can do the math.
Various programs in the UAE that elevate women’s voices include WiSER of Masdar, which works with academic and research institutions, women’s networking groups and corporate interests. This group’s goal is to create more education and training opportunities, which help enable young Emirati women to develop the necessary hands-on industry experience to contribute to the industry. Organizations like WiSER offer the fundamental building blocks to support women’s competitiveness in the global marketplace; Bloomberg’s New Voices can serve as the visibility platform atop of those blocks.
New Voices’ work in Dubai follows the progress in New York, San Francisco, London, Toronto and Hong Kong; Sydney and Mumbai will join the list later this year.
Meanwhile, Bloomberg offers these statistics to show how it's amplifying women’s voices in business and finance across various platforms:
Bloomberg News’ worldwide database of women experts quadrupled last year to over 2,300 names.
The percentage of women guests brought in as expert commentators on Bloomberg TV climbed to 19 per cent last year, almost double from 10 per cent at the end of 2017.
The goal of New Voices is to boost that percentage to 30 per cent during 2019.
The percentage of stories that quote or cite a woman expert on Bloomberg’s front pages has surged to almost 10 per cent from about 2.5 per cent in March; that pace is accelerating at an average pace of 13 per cent a week.