From 30 to 31 October, delegates from across the Gulf region gathered at the Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi for the fifth annual Gov HR Summit.
The summit brings together experts from the government and the public sector, along with business and HR leaders to discuss the challenges posed by the dynamic economic, demographic, digital and social landscape and work towards the “opportunity of rethinking HR”.
As a media partner at the summit, Engage Me had the chance to hear some of those insights. Here’s what we learned.
The region is desperate to get gender equality right
Gender equality remains a major issue in workplaces around the world, including in the Gulf region. Fortunately, most of the GCC countries realise that they need to do some serious work when it comes to making workplaces more equitable for men and women.
These efforts were especially evident during the gender equality panel, which took place on the second day of the summit.
While different companies and government entities have different ways of doing things, it was encouraging to see just how seriously, all the entities represented, are taking workplace equality.
Perhaps the best line of the panel, however, came from Sharjah-based entrepreneur Sara Al Madani.
“Women don’t need empowerment, they are already powerful, they need inspiration,” she said, adding that, “men and women don’t compete with each other. We complete each other.”
It was also promising that the summit itself walked the talk when it came to strong female representation.
The speaker list included influential women such as as Her Excellency Dr. Maryam Butti Al Suwaidi and international presenter and celebrity host May Sayed Ali, and many others.
Leadership is an evolving art
It should hardly be surprising that as the workplace evolves, so do the leadership styles that govern it.
At Gov HR Summit, we got a few ideas of what the latest phase in that evolution looks like.
David Edwards of CEB is now Gartner, for instance, gave us a glimpse of what we should be looking at when it comes to selecting future leaders within an organisation.
Dr Wolfgang Amann, Academic Director of HECParis meanwhile demonstrated the need for leaders to understand where they fall on the energy-focus matrix.
— Amoola (@anaamoola86) October 30, 2017
Based on a study by Heike Bruch and Sumantra Ghoshal, the matrix shows that most managers either lack focus or energy.
The ideal to which all managers should be striving is the focus, purpose-driven position occupied by just 10% of managers.
Perhaps the most impactful statement on leadership, however, came from Ray Jefferson, who served as the Assistant Secretary for (VETS) at the U.S. Department of Labour from August 2009 to August 2011.
“Do not go where the path may lead. Go where there is no path. And lead!,” he said.
Tech is changing everything
There was plenty of tech on display at the summit, and plenty of evidence that it’s impacting every aspect of the workplace.
The Dubai police, for instance, are using VR for training and digital is playing an increasingly important role across the entire HR process, from recruiting and onboarding, to promotions, and even exit interviews.
Perhaps the biggest impact of technology, however, is in allowing companies to better and more continuously measure things like employee engagement, purpose, and performance.
The right approach can result in real change
If there was any doubt that HR can meaningfully change an organisation, Her Excellency Fatema Abdulwahed M Al. Ahmed of Bahrain’s Ministry of Health dispelled them.
After nationalising the country’s medical sector, it became apparent that it was vital the workforce be enhanced.
Its efforts at doing so have played a role in the country’s shrinking unemployment rate and have also netted the ministry several best practise awards, including at the Gov HR Summit.
According to HE Fatema, the approach that’s helped the ministry achieve this success can be summed up fairly simply:
“We shouldn’t just be consumers of knowledge, but must also be producers of knowledge.”
Did you attend the Gov HR Summit? What were some of your big takeaways? Let us know in the comments section below.