Omnicom (NYSE: OMC) launched the UAE chapter of its global initiative, Omniwomen, on International Women’s Day (March 8). The half-day event was attended by more than 150 Omnicom employees and business partners from both genders and across the Emirates. The launch was designed to inspire, raise awareness on gender and diversity, and ultimately encourage action to change.
Omniwomen, a global organization within Omnicom dedicated to championing the number and influence of female talent within the company, is currently active in 10 local chapters across the globe, including the USA, UK, Canada, France, Germany, China and now the UAE.
Describing the initiative, Elie Khouri, CEO of Omnicom Media Group MENA, said: “We’re proud of the many brilliant women we’ve seen rise to the top in our group over the years. It is our collective responsibility to continue to support and nurture women into leadership roles throughout our agencies. This can only be done through commitment, focus and intent. Initiatives like Omniwomen will be pivotal in ensuring we meet our goal of gender parity.”
The event featured several prominent speakers including Raha Moharrak, the first Saudi woman to climb to Mount Everest, TV presenter and oud player Azza Zarour and Trevor McFarlane, CEO of EMIR. The program also included several perspectives on what it means to be a leader and agent of change. The panel discussion titled ‘Our path to success: What we wished we’d known on the way up’ featured several senior Omnicom executives and clients including: Robyn O’Connor, Group Director, Jumeirah; Sara Al-Sayegh Corporate Communication Senior Manager, Dubai Media Incorporated; Samantha Stuart-Palmer, General Manager, BBDO; Natalia Abboud, Head of New Business Development, TBWA/RAAD and Firdaus Shariff, VP, Global Marketing - Head of Demand Programs and Engagement at SAP. Other sessions highlighted the importance of understanding the political and socio-economic gender dynamics in the Middle East, breaking away from the pressures of tradition and accepting what it means to have ambition in the Middle East.
“There’s never been a more pressing need for this initiative. It’s high time we refocus the conversation. Women at work isn’t a ‘women’s issue’. It’s a human issue and a business imperative,” commented Diksha Dua, Omniwomen chairing committee member and President of RAPP Middle East. “For this reason, we’ve made the strategic decision to open several Omniwomen UAE workshops and trainings to both men and women,” she added.
The launch of the UAE Chapter will be followed by a year-long, three-pillar program, Eva Fernandes, Omniwomen UAE chairing committee member and Employee Engagement Manager at Omnicom Media Group MENA, explained: “Based on the feedback we received from Omnicom employees and management in the UAE, we’ve put together a program to help achieve Omniwomen’s global agenda of increasing the influence of women across the agencies. Over the next few months, we will be rolling out several programs around education, mentorship, training, workshops and policy change.”