Pressure mounts for more women boardroom representation

BBK Chairman, Mr. Francis Okomo Okello, New Faces New Voices Network Kenya Director Andia Chakava and NSE Vice Chairman Bob Karina: Barclays Bank has issued a sponsorship cheque of KES 1mn for the Chairpersons Roundtable and Company Secretaries forums

The clamour by women to gain more representation in corporate boardrooms has gained momentum, with a series of roundtable meetings scheduled toaddress the imbalance.

The workshops will be held between October 2014 and 2015.

They will be sponsored by Barclays Bank of Kenya Ltd, with the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) providing technical support while New Face, New Voices (NFNV) Kenya Chapter, a Pan African Advocacy group will guide in content delivery.

The workshops will take place in the wake of plans by market regulator, Capital Markets Authority (CMA) to review the Code of Corporate Governance that will inter alia, ensure more women take up board positions in Kenya’s public listed companies.

“The current Guidelines on Corporate Governance Practices by Public Listed Companies in Kenya specifically provide that the process of the appointment of directors should be sensitive to gender representation, national outlook and should not be perceived to represent single or narrow community interests,” said NSE Vice Chairman, Bob Karina.

NSE

Pressure has been mounting on public and private organisations to correct the gender imbalance, with several studies revealing men take up more board slots in public and private boardrooms.

Whereas a CMA findings said women occupy 9pc of boards, equivalent to 44 positions out of the 462 seats across 55 companies listed at the bourse, another by the Kenya Institute of Management (KIM) showed on 20pc were represented on state Corporation boards.

Last year, 30pc Club Kenya, fronted by the East African Chapter of the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) was launched to recruit other professionals in the push for more women on corporate boards.

“The objective of the club is to provide mentorship, leadership, network and knowledge for women to take advantage of rising opportunities and the law that favours equality. There are similar initiatives by CIM in other markets like South Africa, Hong Kong and UK,” said James Ngomeli, chairman CIM East Africa.

Mr. Ngomeli said a strategic shift in corporate boards representations would bring about better governance, financial results and enhance shareholders’ value.

Paul Muthaura