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Diversity and Representation in Business Media: Empowering Middle Eastern Voices

Updated: Apr 1

Spark! Studios blog

When was the last time you felt truly represented in business media? Have you ever seen a portrayal that accurately showcased the contributions and experiences of Middle Eastern professionals? The issue of diversity and representation in business media is a crucial concern, particularly for the Middle Eastern community. For far too long, business media, including news outlets, magazines, and online platforms, has been dominated by a Western perspective, often not equally covering the unique perspectives and achievements of Middle Eastern professionals. While progress has been made, achieving true equality and inclusion remains an ongoing challenge in the business media industry.

In recent years, however, there has been a growing recognition of the importance of diversity and representation in business media. Companies are realizing that diverse voices and perspectives contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of global markets, consumer preferences, and business strategies. Embracing diversity in business media is not just about fairness; it is a strategic imperative that drives innovation, fosters inclusive workplaces, and unlocks new opportunities for growth.

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Why is diversity and representation in business media important for the Middle East?

1. Reflecting the reality of global business: The global business landscape is diverse, with professionals from different cultures, backgrounds, and perspectives driving innovation and economic growth. Business media should reflect this reality by amplifying the achievements and insights of Middle Eastern professionals. It is through diverse perspectives that a more accurate and nuanced understanding of the global business environment can be achieved.

Cover of Forbes Middle East, April 2023, featuring Sarwa cofounders Nadine Mexher and Mark Chahwan
Image credits: Forbes Middle East, April 2023 issue

2. Fostering cross-cultural understanding: In an increasingly interconnected world, cross-cultural understanding is essential for effective business practices. By showcasing the experiences and perspectives of Middle Eastern professionals, business media can help bridge cultural gaps, foster empathy, and promote meaningful collaborations between different regions and markets.

3. Inspiring future generations: Positive representation in business media can inspire and empower aspiring Middle Eastern professionals. When they see successful individuals who share their cultural background and face similar challenges, it instills confidence, ambition, and determination. It reinforces the message that their contributions are valued and can make a significant impact in the business world.

Screenshot of TechCrunch article titled "YC-backed Zywa, a neobank for Gen Z, raises $3M to expand across MENA"
Image credits: TechCrunch

4. Driving innovation and global competitiveness: Diversity and representation in business media fuel innovation and drive global competitiveness. When diverse voices are included, fresh ideas emerge, different strategies are explored, and novel perspectives challenge the status quo. This enriches the collective intelligence of the business community, leading to more effective problem-solving and strategic decision-making.

5. Holding the business media industry accountable: Lack of diversity and representation in business media can perpetuate biases, reinforce stereotypes, and hinder progress towards an inclusive business environment. By demanding better representation, we can hold the business media industry accountable for fair and accurate coverage. This encourages the development of more inclusive narratives and ensures that all professionals are seen and valued for their contributions.

Celebrating positive middle eastern representation in business media

While positive Middle Eastern representation in business media may still be limited, there are notable examples worth acknowledging:

1. Profiles of Middle Eastern entrepreneurs and executives: Highlighting the achievements, success stories, and leadership journeys of Middle Eastern professionals in business media can provide inspiration and role models for others. These profiles serve to counter stereotypes and showcase the diverse talent within the Middle Eastern business community.

Cover of Entrepreneur Middle East, February 2022, with headline in all caps "Against All Odds" featuring Shahnaz Bagherzadeh, founder of Vivel Patisserie
Image credits: Entrepreneur Middle East, February 2022 issue

2. Thought leadership contributions: Encouraging Middle Eastern professionals to contribute their expertise and perspectives to business media publications and platforms is an essential step towards enhancing representation. By sharing insights, analysis, and thought-provoking content, Middle Eastern professionals can actively shape the narratives and discussions in the business world.

3. Industry events and conferences: Ensuring diverse representation in industry events and conferences is crucial. Organizers should actively seek out Middle Eastern speakers, panelists, and experts to share their knowledge and experiences. This fosters a more inclusive environment where diverse voices are heard and valued.

Screenshot of Shereen Abdulla's Instagram post about the Biban Global Conference in Saudi Arabia
Image credits: Shereen Abdulla's Instagram

4. Providing platforms for Middle Eastern thought leaders: Business media should actively seek out and provide platforms for Middle Eastern thought leaders, experts, and industry influencers to share their insights and perspectives. This not only enriches the discourse in the industry but also amplifies Middle Eastern voices and fosters greater inclusivity.

Screenshot of Sharjah Entrepreneur Festival's Instagram post about an episode of their SEF Backstage pass featuring Ali Abdaal
Image credits: Sharjah Entrepreneur Festival

In conclusion, promoting diversity and representation in business media is crucial for creating an industry that accurately reflects the global business landscape and fosters cross-cultural understanding. By showcasing Middle Eastern professionals, their success stories, and their unique perspectives, we can inspire and empower others while driving innovation and creativity. It is essential for business media to hold itself accountable for inclusivity and equitable representation, ensuring that all voices are heard and valued. By working together, we can create a business media ecosystem that celebrates diversity, embraces inclusivity, and paves the way for a more equitable and prosperous future for all professionals, regardless of their background.

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