The first day of the 3rd Annual Talent & Diversity Leadership Forum took place at the Burj Rafal Kempinski today in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The forum, organised by business facilitation company Naseba in partnership with Saudi based Glowork, focuses on workplace diversity and inclusion. Over 100 HR practitioners, policymakers and business leaders from across the Kingdom came together to discuss human capital as a key economic growth enabler.
The theme of the forum’s first day was ‘National priorities: Leadership development and localisation’. Within this context, speakers at the forum discussed a series of current and relevant topics, beginning with the VIP opening panel, ‘Partnering for tomorrow: Cross-stakeholder collaboration’.
Panellists from the government, private and academic sectors such as Mohammed Mosly, Deputy Director General at the Human Resources Development Fund, highlighted the need to provide the youth with a voice in their own development, saying “It’s time to go with the youth, listen more and talk less and understand exactly what they have been through.” Nabil Tuker, Head of Doroob Program at Takamol, discussed Public Private Partnerships as a way to upskill and reskill the Saudi workforce and bridge the gap between the private and the public sectors. The discussion was moderated by Usamah Al Kurdi, President of Alagat and Former Secretary General of the Council of Saudi Chambers.
Titled ‘The troubled dynamics of nationalisation’, the following panel discussion explored sustainable alternatives to a quota-based nationalisation approach, discussing the integration of Saudi women into the workforce and how to find a balance between expatriate and national workers. The discussion explored the very relevant issue of using expat workers in the development of the Saudi workforce. The discussion touched on the difficulties of balancing talent pool maximisation with the imperative to protect the right and ability of Saudi nationals to pursue successful careers in the Kingdom.
Speakers included Dr Abdulrahman Al Muammar, CEO of King Saud University’s Medical City; Raed Daod, VP of Human Capital & Administration at Integrated Telecom Company (ITC); and Bandar Alraihan, Head of Talent Management at Saudi Investment Bank (SAIB). Mr Daod highlighted the need to utilise the knowledge and talent of the expat workers to further develop the national talent pool.
The day ended on a forward-looking note, with a leadership panel discussing the future of leadership development in the Kingdom featuring speakers such as Othman Al-Haddi, Chief HR Officer at Binladin Holding Company (BHC) and Michael Andrew, Chief Talent & Leadership Development Officer at Al Faisaliah Group, who highlighted the need for a management buy-in and a strong cultural shift in order to successfully prepare for transitioning to the next generation in family-led businesses.
Diversity and inclusion are a central theme of the forum, not only in terms of nationalisation and youth, but also in terms of the importance of encouraging organisations to hire and promote women.
Radhika Punshi, Founder and Consulting Director at The Talent Enterprise, said: “The increasing representation and inclusion of females in our workforce is not just the ‘right’ thing to do anymore, but the ‘smart’ thing for any employer that wants to be proactive with their talent strategies. Tremendous progress has been made over the past 3-4 years, especially with the foresight of the Ministry of Labour and HRDF, as well as leading private sector employers.”
Naseba’s CEO, Sophie Le Ray, commented: “The importance of a platform like the Talent & Diversity Leadership Forum is that it allows human capital stakeholders to openly discuss the challenges and complexities of ensuring that organisations in the Kingdom make the most of the diverse and rich talent pool available to them. We are pleased with the level of interactivity that we have seen during day one, and we look forward to even more lively discussions in tomorrow’s sessions.”