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Serco accelerates purpose-driven agenda at International Women’s Day event

Serco, the international public services company, marked this week’s upcoming International Women’s Day with an event held today at the Women’s Pavilion at Expo City, led by the company’s Middle East CEO Phil Malem.

Women in Serco: Leading with Purpose, was attended by 100 employees and was organised in collaboration with SercoInspire, the company’s internal global platform, which empowers the development of female emerging talent in the business, to encourage them to develop and progress in their careers.

The event focused on exploring new initiatives and opportunities to empower women and promote diversity and inclusion across the organisation, in addition to celebrating the achievements of women in the business over the past year.

Under the leadership of CEO Phil Malem, who joined the business in 2019, Serco Middle East now has an Executive Leadership team that is 50% female. As a company, they established a focus to encourage more women into leadership positions, and further support women throughout the business to achieve their ambitions.

Today, 38% of critical roles at Serco Middle East, including high potential roles, are held by women. In 2022, the number of national females working for the company also increased year-on-year by 76%. Initiatives, including today’s event, continue to identify how the company can support female employees internally, as well as the role of Serco in supporting the push for gender equality reflected in local government visions.

External speakers invited to speak at today’s event included Michelle King, author of the award-winning book The Fix: Overcome the Invisible Barriers that are Holding Women Back at Work. Michelle also leads the UN Women’s Global Innovation Coalition for Change, which oversees three key initiatives focused on leveraging innovation and technology to accelerate the achievement of gender equality and women’s empowerment. Mae Al-Mozaini, the Founder and CEO of the Arab Institute for Women’s Empowerment (Nusf) also spoke about her journey and what has inspired her so far. Nusf was founded to help Saudi nationals and Arab women develop professionally and lead in the corporate world.

Serco, which recently launched its own Advisory with Purpose division, aimed at supporting its clients implement their own ESG goals, was also joined by representatives from UAE-based sustainable streetwear brand, The Giving Movement, who has partnered with Serco to produce their own bespoke company polo shirts. They joined the event to talk about Leading with Purpose, building on their focus on sustainability, and also sharing The Giving Movement specially designed bags with the employees who attended.

Phil Malem, CEO at Serco Middle East said: “The equality of women in the workplace is something I personally am very passionate about. We have incredible females in leadership roles already at Serco Middle East, but I want to see even more women excelling in their careers with us. Our focus as a business is on how we can use our experience and our people, to bring national visions to life and that means focusing internally, as much as externally. Vision 2030 has a clear objective of both increasing women’s participation in the workforce and giving more local women the tools to achieve success in the workplace. As a public-services employer, we need to make sure we are setting excellent standards in equality and then working with our clients to achieve the same”.

Hana Abu Kharmeh, Chief Human Resources Officer at Serco Middle East said: “Today was about giving the floor to some brilliant speakers, delivering advice to help our female colleagues achieve their own goals, and empowering us all with the tools to work together to create an equal world, where even more women have a seat at the table. To be our best we need a company culture that is diverse, equal and inclusive – encouraging women into more roles that are traditionally male-dominated will not only allow them to accelerate their path to leadership, but also ensure Serco as a business continues to thrive. International Women’s Day is just one day in the calendar, so today’s agenda has been focused on the take-away actions we need to make sure that in the other 364 days, we are all still working towards equality”.

Commenting on the event, Samantha Rowles, Operations Director – Transport at Serco Middle East, who is the executive sponsor for the Serco Inspire network – a group that champions gender diversity in the business, said: “We’re proud to have brought everyone together today to highlight our commitment to creating a diverse and inclusive environment that operates with purpose. I’m extremely passionate about encouraging more women to take on leadership roles in operations and bringing with them a variety of skills that will be an asset to the business. This is not a ‘tick-the-box’ exercise for gender diversity; as a business we have a responsibility to help change mindsets to encourage more women to take a seat around the boardroom table. Diversity is key, and events like today, signal our intention to keep investing in women, to encourage them to excel”.

Mae Al-Mozaini, founder of Nusf added: Vision 2030 is a great opportunity for us to harness the incredible momentum of growth we are seeing in Saudi and use the backing of the government and large private sector employees such as Serco to get more Arab women into leadership roles where they are then excelling, because they have the tools and support to do so”.

The event concluded with a final focus on purpose – a theme that Serco is embracing moving forward. Serco announced that as part of its drive to operate sustainably, both through its focus on diversity and inclusion and its wider business efforts, it will be undertaking a major tree planting initiative. Serco is collaborating with UAE-based, The Storey Group to support The One Billion Tree-Planting Initiative in partnership with EcoMatcher. The company is encouraging its community to get involved to do their bit to help protect the planet. Serco hopes in doing so, it can show its commitment to helping the environment by leveraging its community of employees to help.

Karen Storey, Founder of The Storey Group added: “In line with the UAE hosting COP28 and this also being the Year of Sustainability, we are hugely privileged to be charting the course to help Serco make a meaningful sustainable impact. We firmly believe women will play a pivotal role in our collective response to climate change and what better place to announce our tree-planting partnership than in the presence of Serco’s inspiring community of amazing women”.

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