As President Uhuru Kenyatta prepares to name his Cabinet — which he says he will name “in a few weeks” — there is one group that he must consider; women.
We are not having another tired “two-thirds majority” debate. Neither am I holding brief for any feminist organisation. I am speaking based on facts, logic and most importantly, truth.
If the President wants to deliver on his campaign promises, then he will ignore women at his own peril. As he takes on his second and final term, he will need not only the support but also the leadership of women at the highest echelons of power in this country and the Cabinet is a great place to start.
I am not talking about the paltry five women out of a Cabinet of 20 that we have right now. For us to feel the full effect of the leadership of women in government we will require at the very least, 10 women out of the 20 (or 22) Cabinet positions available.
The reasons why Mr Kenyatta needs to have at least 10 women in his Cabinet run deeper than the gender question. This is about performance.
Studies have shown that companies with more women in top management — in the C-suites and on the boards — performed consistently better than those with fewer women.
One such study was conducted in 2016. It was commissioned by Ernst & Young and conducted by Peterson Institute for International Economics.
It surveyed 21,980 companies across 91 countries and found that companies with 30 per cent female representation increased their profits by 15 per cent.
Furthermore, the anniversary publication of McKinsey&Company “Women Matter” report published in October last year, found “a strong correlation between the presence of women in a company’s top management and better financial results.” The finding was the culmination of studies conducted over 10 years.
Even in Africa, the McKinsey&Company Women Matter: Africa report published in August 2016 found that African companies with “at least a quarter share of women” on their boards registered profits that were 20 per cent higher than average. The McKinsey October 2017 report also found that women exhibit some leadership behaviours more frequently than their male counterparts. The behaviours include inspiration, people development, efficient communication and participative decision-making.
President Kenyatta might find some of these attributes useful and might want to consider having more people in his Cabinet exhibiting them. If it is performance that he is looking for in a Cabinet Secretary, then his best bet will be having more women in his line-up to help him accomplish his “Big-Four” development agenda for the country.
In 2013, the President said that he preferred his Cabinet Secretaries to be technocrats as opposed to politicians (with a few exceptions of course).
He also has a knack for picking people from the corporate world to hold various government positions.
If he is the CEO of this country, then it follows that he must follow the lead of the many Fortune 500 companies which have discovered the value of gender diversity on their boards. He should assemble a “dream-team” which must consist of nothing less than 10 brilliant, diligent and performing women if he wants to achieve his goals.
The President has the unique opportunity to leverage on the great talents of these educated and innovative Kenyan women.
This will also help him accomplish his goals while making history in the country. By appointing a Cabinet with more women, he will only be confirming what many Kenyans already know — that women are performers. If you want a job done well, you give it to a woman.
Obviously, there are other benefits that will accrue from having more women in the Cabinet. Women are known to be meticulous and many of them do their jobs to perfection. They are compassionate beings and they understand the needs of the electorate. Most importantly, they have a point to prove, so the President can expect nothing but excellence from them.
If he appoints more women, Mr Kenyatta will also be joining the league of top leaders such as French President Emmanuel Macron who has nine women in his 18-member Cabinet and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who has a Cabinet of 15 women and 15 men.
Needless to say, the President has in the past had a Cabinet where the men outnumbered the women, and some of the men tremendously disappointed him as well as the Kenyan people. So why not try something new, something fresh, a team of excellent women who will deliver results?
Mr President, sometimes the best man for the Cabinet job is a woman.