Diversity and Inclusion

Resilience, inclusivity focus of LEWAS 2020

Annual forum drives diversity talk, recognizes top achievements in women’s empowerment.

Resilience, inclusivity focus of LEWAS 2020

Resilience and inclusivity provided the main themes for the sixth annual Leadership Excellence for Women Awards and Symposium (LEWAS) sponsored and chaired by Aramco.


LEWAS serves as a platform where influential women in the energy industry share their thoughts and experiences on industry challenges and receive recognition for their many achievements. 


LEWAS 2020 Award winners and finalists
LEWAS 2020 Award committee received over 100 nominations from across the region, and Aramco was pleased to have some of its employees, affiliates, and joint ventures among them. The Aramco finalists and winners were:
• Suzana Nunes, professor at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, winner of the Academic Achievement award
• Elspeth M. Crawford, petroleum engineer, winner of the Leading with Excellence award
• Dr. Salwa S. Sheikh, head of the Pathology and Laboratory Services Division, winner of the Women of Achievement award
• Johns Hopkins Aramco Healthcare, winner of the Corporate Excellence award
• Seba S. Al Maghlouth, petroleum engineer and finalist in Leading with Excellence
• Fatemah H. Abudeeb, petroleum engineer and finalist in Rising Star
• Fatimah M. Alkayadi, petroleum engineer and finalist in Rising Star.


This year’s forum, held virtually, featured the theme “Resilience Reimagined: Leading People through Change” as it focused on the challenges of the ongoing pandemic through keynote speeches, interviews, and panel discussions addressing topics such as gender diversity, women and innovation, and women’s future in the oil industry, as well as operational resilience, business continuity, and flexibility in responding to the new realities of a post-pandemic world. 


LEWAS 2020 has certainly elevated our hope for a brighter tomorrow. Now, it’s time we all elevate our thinking of how we can continue to build inclusive ecosystems, and ensure we engage, empower, and elevate the advancement of women in our industries.
— Reem A. Al Ghanim, head of Aramco Chemicals HR and Support Services, and co-chair of the LEWAS 2020 forum


Marwa M. Al- Khuzaim, managing director of Aramco Asia Singapore, noted the importance of shifting gears and adapting through these difficult times, while also emhasizing the importance of diversity and the impact it has on an organizations’ ability to adapt. 


Aramco Chemicals vice president Olivier G. Thorel spoke about the importance of leaving no one behind, the significance of looking at different realities, taking local context into consideration, and how virtual connections place everyone on level playing fields. 


Jennifer M. Shepard, a diversity and inclusion specialist at Aramco, spoke on the psychology of bias, saying, “Biases, especially unconscious ones, are the result of the way our brains sort and categorize information as a result of our socialization and life experiences.” 


Shepard said such biases can’t be unlearned but can be overcome through the REAL technique, which stands for remain, expand, accept and live.


Aram Y. Alyahya, a business systems analyst, joined other young leaders discussing the need to push boundaries and demonstrate great examples in leadership. 


Personal resilience

The “Untapped Reserves 2.0 study, led by the World Petroleum Council (WPC) and the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), was discussed in length at the forum, including: 


• The consistent underrepresentation of women across geographies and types of companies


• The decreasing percentage of women in the workforce over time, which worsens at more senior levels


• Wide gaps in perception between men and women regarding the challenges


• The importance of CEO’s value on gender balance, as organizations will follow their lead.


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