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Saudi Arabia’s Oil Company Just Put a Woman on Its Board for the First Time

It’s been a big month of firsts for Saudi Arabia.

Earlier in April, Black Panther became the first publicly screened film in 35 years, after the Kingdom reversed its ban on cinemas. Now, the state-owned oil company Saudi Aramco has crossed a milestone of its own.

As part of a board reshuffling that took place over the weekend, Aramco added its first-ever female director.

Lynn Laverty Elsenhans, who previously served as the chairwoman, president, and chief executive of U.S. oil refiner Sunoco Inc., was among the five members added to Saudi Aramco’s board.

Lynn Elsenhans, former Sunoco chairman, is Saudi Aramco's first female director
In joining Saudi Aramco’s board, former Sunoco CEO Lynn Elsenhans is one of the most powerful women in Saudi business. Tim Rue Corbis—Getty Images
Tim Rue—Corbis via Getty Images

Other non-Saudi additions include Peter Cella, former Chevron Phillips Chemical Co. chief executive, and Andrew Liveris, the former executive chairman of chemical giant DowDuPont Inc.

Senior government ministers Mohammed al-Jadaan, currently serving as finance minister, and Economy Minister Mohammed al-Tuwaijri rounded out the list. Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih remains the company’s chairman.

While the introduction of a woman and additional non-Saudi members may be intended to increase the attractiveness of the company as it prepares for an IPO, the continued inclusion of Saudi government officials could limit its options for listing on Western exchanges, suggests The Wall Street Journal.