Striving for more diversity and inclusion

Celebrating International Women's Day

By Rawan Nasser

On March 8, Aramco’s Diversity and Inclusion division hosted a virtual webinar in which leaders and professionals from around the world came together to discuss the main issues facing women in the workforce today with a focus on the unique barriers that exist within the oil and gas industry.

The event was planned to support the global efforts around International Women’s Day and take part in celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women.

“Celebrating success matters, and stating expectations matters even more,” said Reema Siyam, head of the Diversity and Inclusion Division. “We wanted Aramco employees to hear from the company’s top management on their commitment to diversity and inclusion. And the message was clear: Aramco will be a role model for equity, where ability and ambition alone are the measure of success.”

Diversity and inclusion is part of our DNA

When it comes to hiring and providing leadership and development opportunities for women, Aramco has long led by example in the Kingdom. In 1964, the company hired the first Saudi woman, Najat Al Husseini, as a health professional who led the company’s vaccination campaigns and opened a door for thousands of women to follow.

Today, women make up 43% of the students sponsored by the company annually to attain scholarships from prestigious universities around the world, with the goal to raise that number to 50%. Those women, along with others, are graduating to take up positions and lead in their fields.

In addition to that, one-third of our Young Leaders Advisory Board are women, making their voices heard as advisors to the company’s management and representatives of the company’s youth population. And 10% of the startups funded through the company’s entrepreneurship arm, Wa’ed, are led by women.

Saudi Aramco President and CEO
Saudi Aramco president & CEO Amin Nasser addressed attendees at the virtual event.

Our leadership’s commitment

Saudi Aramco president and CEO Amin Nasser acknowledged the important role that women in the workforce played in bringing to fruition two of the biggest Aramco achievements over the past two years: the company’s record breaking IPO in 2019, and the company’s share acquisition of a 70% stake in Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC).

“In every field, in government, in business, and in sports, Saudi women are making their mark now thanks to Vision 2030 and the Kingdom’s leadership,” he said. “This is why I look forward to the day when there are several female vice presidents and senior vice presidents. And perhaps, the first female CEO in my lifetime.”

Nasser said that over the next 3 to 5 years, the company plans to significantly hire, retain, and appoint women to leadership and executive roles. “We are committed to being supporters, mentors, and champions of our female colleagues,” he said.

Busting barriers to entry and advancement

Aramco is not alone in its journey toward better equity and inclusion. Across the Kingdom, change and reform are taking place, and opportunities are being forged in many different areas. Other companies around the world are joining in this effort.

A study conducted by the World Petroleum Council and the Boston Consulting Group, showed that women make up less than 22% of employees in the oil and gas industry, and 17% of senior executive roles.

“We need to be at the forefront of the change as leaders and pace setters,” said Nabeel A. Al-Jama’, senior vice president for Human Resources and Corporate Services. “We must tackle barriers so that women can rise as far as their talents will take them, including the most senior levels of the company.”

“We all need to value the different skills and perspectives that different people bring to the table,” he said.

Speakers at the webinars

Fruitful discussions and a bright way ahead

“Female leaders continue to stand out on a global stage,” said Nabil K. Al-Dabal, vice president of Human Resources, mentioning examples like Sheila Rowaily, CEO of Aramco's investment subsidiary Wisaya; Soulafa Al Nassar, HR director at Aramco's offices in Houston; and Marwa Al Khuzaim, the managing director of Aramco Asia in Singapore.

“I am extremely proud of the work we've done and I'm more excited to see the work that our teams will continue to do,” he said.