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SPE Talent and Retention Workshop: 
Branding—Looking at it From Both Sides

10 March 2013

Manama, Bahrain | Bahrain Exhibition Centre

Technical Agenda


Session 1: How can Branding Affect Gender Issues in HR?

Session Chairs: Dina Khudairi, Baker Hughes; Hekmat Hamza Bani Hashem, ZADCO; Layla Janahi, Tatweer Petroleum; Shabir Hussain, Petroleum Development Oman;

Companies use branding as a means of self- promotion through a variety of means in order to attract and retain loyal employees and customers. A successful brand self-promotes, breathes loyalty, and offers consistency in the quality of the service it offers. Several factors influence the brand image that a company would like to portray including the type of product or service that is being promoted as well as cultural and gender factors that impact on the brand image.

Likewise, individuals can also create their own self-promoting brand and there are many successful examples from the world of sports and entertainment. In the oil and gas industry, individuals from either gender can brand themselves by keeping themselves current in their field as well as availing of opportunities for self-development. This positive branding should serve to open doors when it comes to being recruited initially and well as improving their chances of job progression.

Company branding and individual branding are not independent entities, but are two sides of the same coin. Companies tend to employ people whom they perceive would embody and promote their brand, and an individual’s brand should assist him/her in job progression as well as creating a lasting positive or negative impression of the company when they are dealing with its clients.

It’s a truism that the best asset that most organisations have is their people. As a result, the HR discipline is becoming a lot more central to any organisation. Companies today need a balance of women and men at the top to produce challenging discussions, informed by a variety of perspectives. A number of studies have shown a clear correlation between gender diversity and higher profitability. Diversity in the work environment promotes acceptance, respect and teamwork. Companies that overcome certain diversity issues often achieve greater productivity, profit, and company morale.

The main objectives of this workshop are to examine what can be done to make it easier for individuals from both genders to improve their own brand image and thus help a company address gender issues in relation to hiring and promotion. Topics open for discussion will include:

  • How we can encourage diversity in the workplace by facilitating and recognising self-branding while at the same time managing expectations.
  • How individuals can market themselves through improving their skills and communication.
  • How a company’s recruitment policies and promotion policies impact on gender issues in the workplace and how these issues can be addressed. This means promotion of a non-discriminatory work environment, and fair treatment of all workers in the hiring process, job conditions, work evaluations and promotions. Managers should not only offer training, but top management and front-line managers in a diverse organisation have to set the tone for an effective culture of non-discrimination in gender issues.
  • Examining the role of women in the industry including the promotion of women’s entry into technical education and training programmes. Identifying the needs of women employees and providing support for their full participation in training programmes and career advancement.
  • Challenges in gender mainstreaming; How to tackle under-representation of women in decision-making positions? Concrete examples from women in the field as well as video testimonials and roundtable discussions.       


Session2: Panel Session: The Challenges of Internal and External Branding

Session Chairs: Hamed Mohamed, Tatweer Petroleum; Henry Edmundson, Schlumberger; Raida Al Alawi, University of Bahrain

The way organisations present themselves both internally and externally must satisfy two key challenges. The brand must represent the true high-level aspirations of the organisation and at the same time speak to and satisfy the employees’ sense of belonging to the organisation.

High-level corporate strategy may include its position on developing local capability, its diversity ambitions, its ethical standards, and other key social issues besides its goals as a business.
The employee’s sense of belonging depends on whether the brand truly reflects the organisation’s ability to motivate and develop its workforce, and provide a stable and responsible working environment.

Satisfying these challenges may require different priorities and emphasis whether the perspective is external or internal. A strong external brand is important for relations with partners and government and for recruitment of talent. Internally, a strong brand is essential for coherent team spirit and retention.

In both cases, what is most important is ensuring that the perception of the brand coincides with reality. This panel will explore the issues companies face in ensuring brand satisfies their employees’ requirements.