All inclusive: Middle East Centre and Aurora50 partner to progress DEI agenda

All inclusive: Middle East Centre and Aurora50 partner to progress DEI agenda

The Middle East Centre is partnering with UAE-based training and development organisation Aurora50 to support DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) in the region - and it’s a collaboration that is already making an impact.Aurora50 co-founder Diana Wilde met Randa Bessiso, Founding Director of the University’s Middle East Centre, at a workshop investigating ways to increase the number of women in leadership roles.

At the time, Aurora50 was focused on building a pipeline of highly competent women board directors and connecting them to boards through its Pathway20 accelerator.

Aurora50 has since expanded its remit to support organisations in achieving their gender balance goals through diversity and inclusion initiatives at all levels, as Diana explains.

“I co-founded Aurora50 in 2020 to foster gender balance and inclusivity across workplaces,” she says.

“I have an unwavering commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), and hired a team with the same values. We support and empower our clients through powerful programmes that drive progress and impact.

“But I see Aurora50 as more than just an organisation. It's a movement, a catalyst for change.

“Forging a united and inclusive future. Embracing and celebrating our differences. These changes are for the good of humanity.

“We enable organisations to cultivate inclusive environments, where diversity empowers growth and innovation.”

Designed for impact

Aurora50 and the University’s Middle East Centre recently formalised their commitment to help drive more impact, having been supporting each other with a range of knowledge-sharing activities for some time.

Working with leading universities like Manchester University helps Aurora50 to access the very best talent in both student pools and alumni, as well as some of the world’s top academics.

Among recent joint activities, Diana Wilde has been a keynote speaker (and an inspiring one!) at the University’s annual Women in Business Forum 2023.

Aurora50’s services include NOORA, Pathway20 and The Inclusion Summit.

NOORA is a platform launched in July 2023 with founding partners Accenture, EGA, Emirates Group, ENOC and TAQA. NOORA is a real-world community for like-minded and ambitious corporate women. It has separate levels for first-time managers and established leaders.

Aurora50 is working with founding partners to inspire other leading organisations to join. Women can also join as individual members.

All members participate in face-to-face workshops, and can network via the online membership platform at any time. They learn best practices in leadership and career advancement strategies, all designed for women to grow personally and professionally. And all, of course, with the support of other women.

Pathway20 is the flagship programme designed to increase female representation on corporate boards and connects the region’s most influential, board-ready women with seasoned directors.

Boards of leading institutions work with the accelerator to gain access to - and mentor - directors in the early years of their board careers.

The Inclusion Summit takes place on 9 - 10 November in Abu Dhabi. It is the MENA region’s largest cross-industry DEI event: an assembly of hundreds of chairs, board members and C-suite executives.

Participants can connect with regional and international change-makers, gain insights into national and company DEI initiatives, share best practices in DEI and inspire change.

Diana hopes that members of the University’s world-class faculty will support NOORA and that faculty, students and alumni alike will participate in The Inclusion Summit.

Collaborating to make a difference

Aurora50 and the Middle East Centre are currently focusing on the UAE but Aurora50 is expanding to other Gulf countries and the partnership will grow correspondingly.

As Diana says: “The University of Manchester is a global leader in sustainability research and development. The University is helping to shape the future of sustainability by developing new technologies, creating innovative solutions, and educating the next generation of sustainability leaders.

“We will incorporate their interdisciplinary approach and expertise within NOORA to bring women together from different fields to tackle complex problems, and find new applications and opportunities for women in UAE corporates to reduce carbon and work towards the UAE climate goals.”

Aurora50 works with leaders and supports listed corporations, large private organisations and high-growth businesses alike to become and remain balanced and performance-led, with inclusive leaders, workplaces and culture.

“Collaboration is at the heart of everything Aurora50 believes in,” adds Diana. “True transformative progress is a symphony, not a solo performance.

“At Aurora50, we act as catalysts for profound change by embracing the power of community. It is only through collaboration and strategic alliances that we can amplify our ability to drive lasting impact for generations.

“The Middle East Centre has the opportunity to drive impact and reduce the gender gap through our collaboration. Aurora50 works tirelessly to address the gender gap and create thriving inclusive workplaces. This cannot be achieved without collaborating with leading academic institutions that help build capacity.

“Of course, students and alumni can also leverage the tools and networks Aurora50 provides to drive change for themselves and their organisations. The University’s regional community of students and alumni have access to Aurora50 initiatives to support their own careers and to support the journey, which is leaving a lasting legacy.

Diana concludes: “Aurora50’s vision is to drive business growth and innovation though the power of inclusion. We empower stakeholders to rebalance the ecosystem, to achieve gender balance in the workplace for the next generation. This can only be created through inclusion.”

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