Saudis 'missing out' on huge female workforce

New report says 385,000 well educated women not being utilised in Gulf kingdom

About 385,000 well educated Saudi women are available for work but not being utilised, according to new research by Oxford Strategic Consulting.

The report, which has been presented at a high level conference in Riyadh, has found that thousands more Saudi women could easily be employed by the private sector.

It calculated that raising female workforce participation in the kingdom to around 40 percent - still lower than most G20 economies - could add $58bn in revenues to Saudi companies.

The OSC report said that around 385,000 well educated Saudi female are available in the market, but not currently utilised.

It added that the private sector has the capacity to employ at least 7m women.

"Allowing well educated Saudi females to achieve their full potential is a laudable aim, of benefit to themselves and wider society but, as the research shows, this has to be achieved without threatening family life and national, cultural or religious identity," the report said.

The research found that even among well-educated Saudi females, 73 percent would rather work in all-female environments and most would rather work part-time, near to home, so they can spend time with families.

The OSC report recommended more flexible options to encourage more females into the workplace.

"This will allow the preferences of highly valuable Saudi females to be met whilst still making a major contribution to the productivity and success of employers - large and small," OSC said.

It added that while the Ministry of Labour has launched many initiatives to get more women in work, the greatest impact must come from employers themselves, particularly in the private sector,

"The business benefits for employers of employing Saudi females are significant, including access to a large female market - Saudi females currently control over $30bn in Saudi bank accounts and own over 12 percent of all private businesses," OSC said.

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