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Kenyan firms make strides on road to gender diversity in boardrooms

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Kenyan companies are making strides in the push for gender diversity with women representation in listed companies’ boardroom rising to 21 percent in 2017 up from 12 percent in 2012, a report by the Kenya Institute of Management (KIM) shows.

The report dubbed ‘ Leadership and Diversity’ also indicates that four out of the 52  listed companies in the country have female chairpersons translating to  7.7 percent, which is slightly higher than  the global average of four percent.

KIM Executive Director Muriithi Ndegwa said that a gender gap exists in many boardrooms despite the fact that board diversity has a positive impact on company performance.

“Having at least 25 percent female board members had a positive influence on financial performance with a compounded annual growth rate of assets and revenues in listed companies in Kenya,” said Muriithi while releasing the report in Nairobi.

Muriithi further observed that in terms of skills, finance and business based professions dominated boardrooms with accountants, auditors, bankers and investment sector professionals occupying 40 percent of the slots.

He added that Science, Technology and Mathematics (STEM)-based careers had less than 10 percent representation in boardrooms further revealing that with respect to age, the average age of board members stood at 55.8 percent.

“52.5 percent of the average age is between 45 and 49 years old. Here, the country is scoring better than the global average of 60 years,” added Muriithi.

He stated that according to academic qualifications, 48 percent of board members have a degree while 38 percent have post graduate diplomas noting that 54 percent of female board members have a post graduate degree compared to 43 percent of their male counterparts.

Muriithi called upon institutions, both listed or not, private and public to join in the movement towards more diverse boards both in conversation and in action.

Barclays Bank of Kenya Chairman Charles Muchene confirmed that his board has enacted robust diversity and inclusion policies and programs to support the successful implementation of the agenda.

Related: Banks lock out women from top management 

Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) Chairman Samuel Kimani noted that NSE came up with the initiative in order to boost the capital market players and prioritize good governance.

“As NSE, we embody good corporate governance policies from our board to the front line employees. We urge all listed companies to continue promoting diverse boards in our market,” said Kimani.

The report indicates that diversity is still a mirage in many countries around the globe but there definitely exists concerted efforts to address this. Despite the outlook of the report, Kenya continues to be a trailblazer in not only developing markets but also in comparison to advance markets in strides made to achieve a good balance.

The 2017 KIM Leadership & Diversity Research report which was done partnership with the Nairobi Securities Exchange, New Faces New Voices and Barclays Bank of Kenya, sampled 52 of the 62 listed companies in Kenya to ascertain the progress that listed companies in Kenya have made in regards to board diversity and inclusion.

The Kenya Institute of Management is a professional membership-based, management development organisation set up in 1954 to enhance excellence and integrity in management practice in Africa and beyond.


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