In Saudi Arabia, for many women to acquire a job remains a very coveted aspiration. The traditional customs and laws especially the gender segregation law makes it very tricky for these women to step out of their homes to go to work. There has been significant increase in access to education in Saudi Arabia and women in the country lead when it comes to getting literate. Nearly, 60 percent of university students in Saudi Arabia are women.However, when it comes to applying their skills to a job has been a struggle for them.
This is where Khalid Alkhudair is working to provide a platform where women in Saudi Arabia can achieve economic empowerment. Khalid is working with the Saudi ministry of Labor to change policies which makes it difficult for organizations to hire women. With his determination and conviction, he has been able to help push new laws in the country which mandates hiring of women in some sectors like retail and manufacturing. Apart from that he runs an organization called Glowork which helps women get jobs with various organizations in the country.
Below is our chat with this award winning change maker who is working to bring change to lives of 1.2 million unemployed Saudi women:
- What inspired you to start a platform where women in Saudi Arabia could seek job opportunities?
When my sister returned from Canada to find a job due to cultural barriers and lack of information she was not able to apply for a job. My sister’s struggle became the main driver of my movement to penetrate the Saudi job market and promote diversity and equality. In May of 2001, I founded Glowork and turned it into a replicable innovative model for job creation for women. Those questions led me to start my career in a company that provides consulting services to make the appropriate research to understand the obstacles to women’s employment problems and bridge female job-seekers with employers.
- What kind of obstacles you faced when you were building Glowork?
Awareness and readiness of women entering into the workforce was a key challenge. Not from only the women’s perspective but acceptance by some families and certain communities. The readiness of the workforce to receive women into previously male-only sectors required alignment be it from the governmental entities or the companies themselves. With that comes skills and experience where 10 to 15 years ago concentration was in certain fields of expertise. Today the local universities offer diverse educational fields which has opened new avenues of employment and career development for women.
- You have employed mostly women in your company Glowork, is that part of strategy to promote acceptance for women employment?
Definitely, we aim to empower women and we lead by example.
- What kind of jobs does your organization helps the job seekers to attain?
Several jobs in different industries; Retail, Marketing, Consulting, Oil and Gas, Food and Beverages, Manufacturing.. etc
- What are your future goals with respect to your work?
I hope to see Glowork throughout the region and replicate its success to the entire world and spread a great Saudi story.
- What would you like to advise others who aspire to be social entrepreneurs?
Starting a business is not easy, if you have the will, passion, and patience, go for it. You won’t only make money, but you will also change lives