Women executives in public and private sector bodies Tuesday blamed the ‘Old boys’ syndrome in denying more women appointments to senior positions.
A breakfast meeting at Serena Hotel convened by Institute of Directors Kenya (IoD), heard that the male dominated boards and public entities openly appointed women as a sign of tokenism in total disregard to laid down criteria of seeking competent women to fill in the positions.
Commemorating the International Women’s Day, the meeting heard that there was a lot of negative ‘news’ about women in national news that blurred accomplishments made by many women executives in executive boards in private and the public sector.
Unclaimed Assets Financial Authority(UFAA) Mrs Kellen Kariuki said the ‘Old boys’ network as well as some professions mostly favouring women like nursing, secretarial work among others largely contributed at demeaning women who at times earned less than men in similar professions.
Azali Certified Public Secretaries Partner, Mrs Marden Oluoch-Olunya called for successful women to seek media support so as to repaint the woman’s contribution at the business level as well as seek to influence policies at companies they work for.
Saying Kenyan laws supported affirmative action, Mrs Olunya said corporate companies must be forced to implement the same since many were unwilling and those who did deliberately chose women who had nothing to offer.
Mrs Olunya and Mrs kariuki observed that Kenya had made commendable strides on the political front for reserving positions at all levels for women but on the corporate front it remained an all boys’ party.
IoD’s Chairman Mr Duncan Watta said they would soon launch a women’s chapter that will spearhead training of highly competent women to prepare for directorship positions in blue chip companies.
Capital Markets Authority Acting Chairman Paul Muthaura informed attendants that it was now mandatory that all companies must report at their annual general meetings the number of women in the boards.
He said IoD must lead by example as the government had introduced new rules that make it mandatory for all boards to include women.
Ernst and Young East and Central Advisory Services Leader Ms Celestine Munda urged for women in power to take it upon themselves to drive the gender agenda saying time had come for women to form networks that enhance their inclusion.
She welcomed the triple bottom line reporting system for companies saying Kenyans will be able to know which companies employ women, respect the environment and also manage finances well for profit and for public good.
Out of fifty seven listed companies with 467 directors, only 54 directors were women and that 23 companies had no women director on their board.
Two companies had women serving as chief financial officers and two others had women as their chief executives.
A recent report ‘Women Representation on Boards’ by the IODK shows minimal women representation in board positions; in banks only 12 per cent are represented, state agencies stands at 26 per cent while the insurance sector representation is at 15 per cent.
“The UN Women targets to reach 50 per cent women representation in boards by 2030,” said the IODK chairman Duncan Watta, “Since women represent 52 per cent of the overall population, they have a significant role to play in Kenya’s quest for global competitiveness.”