Equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) have had an increasing profile on both social and organisational agendas in recent years. Despite progress in many areas, other challenges remain persistent and recent backlash against EDI from some quarters have added to the challenge.

Bupa Arabia, a leading health insurer in Saudi Arabia, seeks to highlight and strengthen its commitment to EDI through the development and implementation of its Diversity and Inclusion Framework.

Established in 1997, Bupa Arabia is headquartered in Jeddah and part of the global Bupa network. It offers health insurance products and services that cater to the needs of Saudi Arabia’s corporations, government institutions, small and medium-sized enterprises and those they employ.

The organisation prides itself on its commitment to the wellbeing and development of its employees, providing them with the same standard of care, support and professionalism that it expects to be delivered to its customers.

What is the challenge?

The company has ambitions to build on its leadership position to be the greatest healthcare company in the Arab world. Its vision is a healthier and happier life for whoever the organisation reaches, whether a member, an employee or part of the community.

Bupa Arabia believes that having a diverse workforce enables it to better understand and serve customers’ needs, helping the company to think differently and approach situations with an alternative mindset. It also wanted to highlight and strengthen its commitment to the importance of diversity in the workplace. 

What are the objectives?

In response to the challenge, Bupa Arabia developed its Diversity and Inclusion Framework. The framework consists of three main pillars and associated goals:

1. Inclusive culture

A culture where everyone feels a sense of belonging and employees feel able to bring their true selves to work and be their very best.

Goals

  • Raise awareness and understanding of what an inclusive culture and diverse workforce means for Bupa Arabia and the role everyone plays.
  • Listen to the workforce and understand the pain points in the employee journey that impact the company’s inclusive culture.
  • Better understand the diversity of personnel through improved data capture.

2. Inclusive leadership

Leaders visibly role-model inclusive leadership, building diverse teams and creating psychologically safe environments where its people can develop and grow.

Goals

  • Improve gender balance across the organisation and in leadership teams.
  • Improve gender balance in the company’s succession pools and talent programme.

3. Inclusive practices

Ensure policies and practices are fair, remove bias and allow the organisation to attract, retain and promote increased diversity, reflecting the customers and communities it serves.

Goals

  • Identify the opportunities for more inclusive practices in key moments that matter (eg recruitment, onboarding, career transitions).
  • Grow Bupa Arabia’s brand reputation for being an employer of choice, gaining external recognition for its commitment to inclusion and diversity.

Based on these three pillars, Bupa Arabia aims to achieve the following core objectives:

  • Be a gender-balanced organisation where all female leaders feel empowered to lead and supported to do their best.
  • Support women’s advancement to leadership positions and increase female representation across the organisation.
  • Provide the right culture, leadership development and inclusive practices while eliminating any gender pay gap.

What did it do?

Bupa Arabia implemented targeted interventions and initiatives against each of its inclusion and diversity pillars. These efforts are in line with Saudi Arabia’s 2030 Vision which emphasises that a prosperous, contemporary nation must inspire and empower all members of society.

Inclusive culture 

  • Creation of a female network called ‘600 Connect’ where all women in the organisation connect virtually to tackle topics of their interest and introduce fun activities.
  • Introduction of the ‘She’s Bupa’ competition where female employees share career-progression success stories.
  • Opening of female-empowering facilities such as daycare floors and a women-only gym.
  • Ambition to become the employer of choice for graduating students. Bupa Arabia established closer relationships with targeted universities, involving campus visits by business leaders and company tours for alumni. 

Inclusive leadership 

  • Commitment to enrol more female employees on succession plans.
  • Aim to enrol more people managers into leadership roles, coaching and/or mentoring programmes.
  • Commitment to continually update the company’s ‘Career Development Plan’ and ensure employees are working towards achieving their set goals.
  • Ensure more balanced opportunities for female employees to move around the company and progress. 

As part of Bupa Arabia’s inclusive leadership agenda, the company introduced the following leadership development programmes:

1. Emerging leaders programme

Aims to accelerate the talent development of emerging leaders through a blended learning experience. In 2023, 31% of participants were female, and there were 10 different nationalities.

2. Accelerator programme

Aims to equip high-potential middle management with the practical skills needed to boost business performance, execute strategy and accelerate readiness to take on senior roles. In 2023, 24% of participants were female, with 10 different nationalities represented.

3. Transformational leaders programme

Aims to sharpen the skills of senior management through a 6+ months’ modular experience. In 2023, 19% of the participants were female, and 26% were of different nationalities.

4. Executive coaching programme

Aims to develop the mindsets and skills needed to succeed, boost performance and working relationships, and build a healthy succession pipeline.  

Inclusive practices

  • Establish a positive ecosystem through flexible work policies, family leave and wellbeing programmes.
  • Continue to develop female-empowerment policies that will support Bupa Arabia’s commitment to retaining and attracting diverse talent. These include:
    • accompanying leave for a family member or parents for up to three days 
    • provision of virtual daycare services to educate working mothers
    • exceptional medical coverage or reimbursements for special medical cases
    • awarding of one travel ticket to a companion and child under two years of age for female employees who are required to travel for business
    • four weeks working from home to be split pre- or post-maternity leave.

What outcomes have been achieved so far?

Female representation

Bupa Arabia achieved its 2022 target of 36% overall female representation and 14% women across the senior management team, while in 2023 it achieved 39% and 16% respectively. Half of the company’s HR managers are female. 

Cultural diversity

Bupa Arabia is proud to have 26 different nationalities represented in its workforce, whilst at the same time being compliant with Saudization quotas.

People Pulse diversity and inclusion

Bupa measures its diversity efforts against two ‘People Pulse’ drivers, belonging and inclusion. In 2022, Bupa Arabia’s ‘belonging’ driver scored the highest across all Bupa market units internationally and exceeded the global benchmark by 12 points. The ‘inclusion’ driver was first introduced in 2020, with Bupa Arabia securing an all-time record of 81 at its first attempt. In November 2021, the company won the People Leadership Award for ‘Agile culture: the best, most diverse people and a great place to work’.

Talent attraction, progression and mobility

Of the new employees joining Bupa Arabia in 2023, 38% were female, up from 27% in 2020. There are similar positive trends in the promotion of women (in 2022, 36% of promotions were of female employees, up from 34% in 2020) and in female mobility and transfers (40%, up from 37%). Bupa Arabia is 100% compliant with the ‘No Gender Pay Gap’ philosophy.

Key learnings

Bupa Arabia has learned that:

  • companies that value and promote diversity in gender are better able to attract and retain top talent and in turn improve organisational performance and profitability
  • cultural equality in a workforce drives employee innovation
  • having diversity targets or KPIs drives everyone’s commitment to achieve
  • diversity and inclusion initiatives are more likely to succeed when they have the visible backing of the CEO, CHRO and chief executive team.

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