Diversity and inclusion are core values of Zain KSA’s pioneering strategy and vision. Because of this, the company was able to create a work environment that embraces talented individuals, with diverse and strategic thinking, and profound innovations across the board. As a leading telecom operator and digital services provider, Zain KSA believes that achieving full-scale digitalization and engaging the entire community can only be done through empowering all segments of society.
In an exclusive interview with Telecom Review, Zain KSA’s Vice-President, Human Resources, Loluwah AlNowaiser stated, “The Company has created a corporate culture that is based on the values of gender equality and has established non-discriminatory policies that protect individuals from prejudices or discrimination against their ethnicity, physical ability or social background. In addition, the Company has launched several initiatives in support of diversity and inclusion that aim to empower its workforce and serve our society.”
How do you envision women's empowerment at Zain KSA? And what is your approach toward it?
As women’s empowerment is an essential part of Zain KSA’s vision, the Company focuses on nurturing and leveraging the talents of Saudi women, who make up half of Saudi society. We built an integrated strategy to empower Saudi women and enhance their role in leadership, and we revamped our human resources policies to ensure diversity and gender equality, which led to us attaining an effective transformation in our corporate culture. Zain KSA does not stop at providing our female employees with opportunities to lead; it instead continues to invest in its female employees’ leadership development to sharpen their capabilities and strengthen their potential. The company continues to invest in its employees’ unique talents in line with Saudi Vision 2030 and the national digital transformation plan with the aim of providing the best service delivery to enhance the quality of life for our vibrant society and ambitious nation.
Leading roles have been assigned to women at Zain KSA, which reflects our commitment to women’s empowerment and our belief in the importance of women’s roles in the industry.
Zain KSA commenced its diversity and inclusion mission in 2017. What are the milestones of this journey?
We are proud to set the example as one of the first companies to launch diversity and inclusion initiatives with the aim of enhancing Saudi women’s participation in the Kingdom’s ICT sector. Zain KSA has launched the WE Initiative, which is a gender diversity and inclusion initiative that focuses on empowering women's role in leadership and creating a work environment that is based on equality, diversity, and inclusion. This initiative is in line with Saudi Vision 2030 and the Human Capability Development Program, which aim to invest in developing our human capital.
After the successful implementation of the WE initiative, we expanded the scope of the WE program and launched a second phase to achieve new milestones based on three main pillars: awareness, realization and motivation. During the second phase of the initiative, we succeeded in diversifying our labor demographic and raised the percentage of women in Zain KSA to reach 21% of our employees. In addition, we increased the involvement of female employees in leadership roles to encompass 10% of Zain KSA’s leadership positions and 14% of its executive management positions.
In addition to women’s empowerment through employment, how do you manage to hone Saudi women’s skills in this sector?
The WE initiative has evolved beyond equality in employment to enhance Saudi women’s capabilities in the ICT sector by providing them with diverse programs that support their career development and that ensure gender equality.
To supplement traditional training, we launched a mentoring program that includes 28 mentors and 19 mentees. In addition, Zain KSA’s CEO has participated in the mentoring program directly by providing mentorship and guidance to 15 female employees.
We also built several partnerships with major Saudi educational institutes, such as the agreement with Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University (PNU) and the Ministry of Human Resource and Social Development to send five female employees to INSEAD to attend a leadership workshop.
We cooperated with the “Leadership Development Academy,” which has been sponsored by the Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF) in collaboration with Cranfield University, to sharpen the leadership skills of more than 45 potential leaders. Moreover, Zain KSA embarked on strategic partnerships with many leading global ICT companies (including Huawei, Cisco, Nokia, Netcracker and more) to train several female employees for different majors, including business and technical solutions; 5G applications and solutions; network and technical design; and targeted leadership programs.
Recently, we celebrated the recruitment of 100 graduates of our Evolve Program, 75% of whom are women. Our Evolve Program, which aims to train and employ fresh graduates in niche fields, was born out of our robust strategy to empower Saudi youth of both genders and to introduce new Saudi talent in the ICT sector. Zain KSA has partnered with the Chinese Tech giant, Huawei, to provide our Evolve members with extensive experience and global ICT knowledge to enable them to apply their knowledge to serve the Saudi ICT sector’s needs.
Zain KSA’s vision is grounded in women’s empowerment in technology. How do you aspire to implement this in a specialized sector?
At Zain KSA, we’ve created a new reality that transcends the employment of women in the ICT sector and aims to empower women to lead and grow. In 2021, we launched the Women in Tech initiative, a mentorship program that aims to develop and mentor female university students in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and guide them in their future professional journey in the labor market. This initiative excels at understanding the needs of young ladies in the STEM fields as it is designed by successful women with extensive tech experience.
The involvement of female leaders in the STEM fields in this program helps inspire young women who have chosen to be part of these fields, as they act as role models to motivate, develop and educate female students and provide them with the necessary tools to successfully surpass discrimination in the workplace.
In addition, we’ve developed the capabilities of our female staff by enrolling them in a top-tier development program designed by Nokia and supported by the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). Currently, we are preparing for the second phase of our “Women in Tech” initiative to further equip the ICT sector with fresh female talent in various STEM fields, thereby aspiring to sustain and enhance Saudi women’s involvement in the sector, which will lead us toward more diversity and inclusion in the long term.
How will you advance in your journey to nurture diversity and inclusion?
In accordance with Saudi Vision 2030’s Human Capability Development Program, our vision at Zain KSA is not only to be a pioneering telecommunications and digital services provider but also to be leaders in our vibrant society. As such, we strive to enhance and refine the capabilities of Saudi citizens of all social backgrounds to the greatest extent.
In this sense, we aspire to model a diverse and inclusive work environment through our meticulously designed programs and initiatives that empower both our male and female employees. We recognize that our human capital is our most valuable asset, and as such, we focus our efforts to expand and capitalize on our diversity and inclusion to create an inspirational work environment that redefines the standards of diversity in the labor market.
Zain KSA Female Management
Maha Alqernas - Vice President Business & Fulfilment
Njoud Alshehri - Digital Executive General Manager
Eman Alsaidi – Corporate Communication General Manager
Hwazen Algoulity - Commercial Planning General Manager
Shahad Alobaylan - Home Propositions & Solutions General Manager