Spotlight on diversity and inclusion for a strong business case at LEWAS 2020

LEWAS ScreenshotWith more than 1,100 participants from 57 countries, LEWAS brought together a global audience from diverse industries including oil and gas, chemicals, academia, healthcare, utilities, construction and beyond

With the theme ‘Resilience Reimagined: Leading People Through Change,’ the symposium had business leaders move the needle on how some long terms projects had to take off with the pandemic developing overnight; shifting the pace, balance and urgency to act on all fronts.

The LEWAS 2020 three-day business briefing addressed topics impacting the future of growth in the energy sector; from exploring what sets resilient organisations apart to how diversity drives innovation and growth during crises, preparing for the next market shocks and more.

Reem Al Ghanim, chairperson of LEWAS, said, “LEWAS 2020 has certainly elevated our hope for a brighter tomorrow. Now, it’s time we all elevate our thinking of how we can continue to build inclusive ecosystems, and ensure we engage, empower and elevate the advancement of women in our industries.”

Farehana Hanapiah, group HR VP, Petronas, stressed on agility, “We had a big video conferencing facility, a seven-month plan that had to be realised overnight. And what we recognised is that we were more agile than what we thought we were.”

Salma Al-Rashid, Sherpa, W20, made a strong case for ‘leave no one behind’. She cited, that worldwide, 740 million women in the informal economy were affected by COVID-19. Big businesses had a ripple effect on these women’s lives through their economies. And one needs to consider the different realities of each economy, taking into consideration the location that we operate in, whether it is in the MENA region, or around the world and amend policies that can impact women’s lives around the world.

The three-day event did exceptionally well with a steady stream of attendees joining from different time zones. Other panels and parallel sessions touched resilience paradox, psychology of bias and coherence – how to be more mindful of your emotions in stressful times.

Keynote speaker, Sammy Showail, adjunct professor at King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM) in his resilience paradox panel emphasised the importance of empathy in dealing with situations and people in traumatic settings. He added, “When we tell people who are facing difficulties and adversities to just get on with it, we deny them the ability to process the difficulty they are facing, and that becomes an issue, because if we deny that, then they are not going to get the time to heal or process what just happened to them, and learn from it.”

Eboni Adams, global marketing director, ART Hydroprocessing, put the spotlight on diversity. She added, “We all have different backgrounds, we all have different needs, and recognising that we may show up different in our companies because we are different people is imperative to our success.”

The highlight of the event was the LEWAS 2020 Award Ceremony which recognised energy game changers in the Middle East for their impact on leadership, outreach, excellence and being a voice for the betterment of women in leadership roles.

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