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These companies made it to the Best Workplaces for Women in the Middle East list

The societal shift toward harnessing the immense potential of women in the workplace is paving the way for success

These companies made it to the Best Workplaces for Women in the Middle East list
[Source photo: Anvita Gupta/Fast Company Middle East]

The past decade has witnessed an astonishing journey for women in the Middle East, transitioning from employment to genuine empowerment. Forward-thinking organizations have embarked on this journey alongside them, going the extra mile to establish spaces that champion inclusivity, prioritize well-being, and offer a harmonious work-life balance. 

In bringing our inaugural Best Workplaces For Women list, we have been mindful of recognizing organizations across the Middle East that most effectively empower women employees at all levels by taking care of their well-being, creating inclusive ways of working and doing business, and providing them with the space to think clearly, innovate creatively, and find a work-life balance. 

What differentiates Best Workplaces For Women from existing best-places-to-work lists is that it goes beyond benefits and competitive compensation, which are mere table stakes in today’s competition for talent, to identify which companies are actively creating and sustaining a culture that women employees value even more than money. Places where they can do the best work of their careers and improve the lives of people around the region. To determine the list, Fast Company Middle East’s editors mined hundreds of applications from companies across the region, and every application received a careful review.  

Here are the companies (listed in alphabetical order) that are novel in what they are doing, sustaining a strong, inclusive, diverse company culture, and different from what’s come before. 


For breaking barriers, building bridges 

Balinca is dedicated to empowering women in business, particularly in Saudi Arabia and the wider region, boasting a team of 85% women. Their workplace ethos revolves around diversity and inclusion, offering relocation options across seven countries and customized professional development opportunities. Ensuring fairness, they operate a merit-based compensation system and prioritize emotional intelligence through warm welcomes and engaging activities. Strategies such as team integration post-merger and regular workshops underline their commitment to ongoing enhancement.

A standout feature is their Arabic-exclusive board game for finance and business training, designed to support financial literacy within the Arab community and attract participants from diverse backgrounds. With a people-first philosophy, Balinca provides tailored growth paths, mentorship initiatives, and inclusive decision-making platforms, cultivating a nurturing atmosphere for women. Beyond the office, their involvement in community initiatives, continuous education programs, and networking gatherings further empower women in their professional and personal pursuits.

Bukhash Brothers

For inclusive empowerment and innovative culture

In the past year, Bukhash Brothers has made progress in championing women’s empowerment, with women now constituting 50% of its workforce, including four women holding leadership positions. The company’s implementation of flexible working hours reflects its commitment to supporting its female employees’ work-life balance needs. In addition, its dedication to inclusivity shines through its hiring practices, actively seeking out young, creative women and crafting campaigns that resonate across diverse audiences.

Over the last two years, Bukhash Brothers has demonstrated forward-thinking by embracing remote work models, enhancing productivity while accommodating varying working preferences. Diversity, creativity, and adaptability values are central to its ethos, all aimed at fostering a workplace culture where every employee feels valued, supported, and empowered.


For nurturing diversity and achievement 

Over the past year, FIVE Hotels and Resorts has made considerable strides in empowering women within its workforce. With a dedication to cultivating a high-performance environment, the organization has boosted its female representation from 19% to 22%, with the head office leading the charge with 29% women in key roles. Initiatives such as the Women in Leadership Program have catalyzed promotions and advancement across various departments, resulting in 48 well-deserved promotions for female talent.

A statistic reveals that 70% of direct reports to the CEO are women, highlighting their influence within the organization. Beyond recruitment efforts, FIVE adopts a holistic approach to support women’s well-being, offering healthcare assistance, wellness programs, and housing benefits. Also, the company’s strong commitment to environmental and social responsibility aligns with its mission to foster a diverse and inclusive workplace. Through initiatives like FIVE Cares and its proactive promotion of women into leadership roles, FIVE Hotels and Resorts actively champions women’s empowerment and community engagement. 

Kraft Heinz

For empowering women, enriching communities

In 2023, Kraft Heinz emphasized empowering women in the workplace through internal initiatives, including awareness campaigns and focus groups. These endeavors have cultivated a culture of enhanced communication and connection among female colleagues, complemented by introducing wellness sessions such as stretching and yoga. These efforts have yielded tangible results, with engagement scores among women rising by an impressive 9 points, surpassing those of their male counterparts.

Over the past two years, the company has implemented strategic measures, including forming a female-majority leadership team and a steadfast commitment to gender equality initiatives like the Gender Equality Acceleration Pledge. The company is also committed to equal pay, offering six months of paid maternity leave and two weeks of paternity leave, along with flexible and remote work options to support working mothers’ balance between work and life commitments.

Lockheed Martin

For empowering women, catalyzing change

In 2023, Lockheed Martin reaffirmed its commitment to gender diversity and inclusion through strategic initiatives to empower women in the workplace. One notable milestone was the expansion of the Women’s Impact Network (WIN) to the Middle East, emphasizing the organization’s dedication to fostering a supportive and inclusive environment globally. Policies such as implementing a 10/4 workweek and preferential parking for women showed Lockheed Martin’s approach to promoting work-life balance and gender equality.

Lockheed Martin’s focus on advancing STEM education through its STEM Scholarship program at the Center for Innovation and Security Solutions (CISS) in Masdar City highlighted significant female participation rates and provided invaluable real-world industry experience. Through advocacy for female engineers in key projects, Lockheed Martin continues to drive meaningful change and initiate important conversations surrounding gender diversity across various industries.

MAGRABI Retail Group  

For gender inclusivity and a supportive workplace

MAGRABI has prioritized empowering women in the workplace in the past year through its MPower Women Empowerment Program. This initiative includes policy adjustments, development tracks for female leaders, and engagement activities celebrating women’s contributions. It also introduced new company values emphasizing inclusivity and equity and commemorated female-focused international days like Women’s Month and Breast Cancer Awareness Day. Moreover, personalized employee wellness sessions addressing parenting and women’s health coaching highlight MAGRABI’s commitment to female empowerment. 

The company also offers increased female hiring, wellness activities, a monetary allowance for remote work essentials, and flexible post-maternity leave conditions. Flexible hours, female leadership, and amenities like nursing rooms create an empowering environment.


For gender equality and holistic empowerment 

Over the past year, TBWA\RAAD has prioritized empowering women in the workplace through a multifaceted approach. This includes recruiting women for key leadership roles, implementing internal mobility programs that resulted in 47% of promotions going to women, and conducting a comprehensive benefits equity audit to ensure fairness.

The agency’s revamped Performance & Growth Program promotes inclusivity and transparency in evaluations, while flexible working options and mental health support cater to the unique needs of working mothers.  TBWA\RAAD’s initiatives, like the ‘4 weeks work from anywhere’ benefit and the ‘Pause to Recharge’ program, aim to prevent burnout among all employees, especially working mothers. 

The Luxury Closet 

For women’s career growth and inclusive hiring 

In an effort to empower women through forward-thinking initiatives, The Luxury Closet has adopted a gender-neutral hiring approach that ensures a balanced workforce, with women constituting 50% of employees. Over the past two years, the company has implemented impactful measures, including doubling maternity coverage in Dubai to AED 20K and appointing women to key leadership positions in departments such as HR, pricing, and brand and social.

Monthly wellness webinars focusing on parenthood and child mental health further support employees. With 57% of line managers being women, The Luxury Closet aims to offer equal growth opportunities, nurturing a workplace culture that encourages female leadership and advancement.

TishTash Communications

For empowering women through bold initiatives

In the past year, TishTash has introduced several initiatives aimed at catalyzing workplace changes for women. With a fully female workforce, the agency has cultivated an environment where women can thrive. Their initiatives, such as offering paid leave for menstruation, fertility, and menopause, alongside flexible work arrangements, empower women and have resulted in significant outcomes, including 50% year-on-year revenue growth.

Their “Work from Anywhere” policy and comprehensive training programs contribute to women’s professional development. Above all, TishTash operates as a fully female-owned and operated business led by female leaders.


For women’s growth, corporate commitment

In 2023, Zain’s Gender initiative, part of its DEI program, has made strides in empowering women in the workplace. This includes enhancements to the Groupwide Family Leave Policy, offering two months of remote work for new mothers and 45 days of leave for those experiencing miscarriages.

Additionally, programs like We Succeed and WE Coach provide middle-management succession and psychometrics-based coaching to women in STEM roles. Establishing the WE STEM team promotes diversity in tech competitions and mentorship programs. Zain aims to embed women’s empowerment into its corporate agenda by providing comprehensive development programs and sponsoring female employees’ MBA journeys.

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