Study: Corporates have few women bosses

Wednesday November 13 2019

Women still lag behind in Kenya’s corporate management, with only 22 per cent representation. PHOTO | FILE


Women still lag behind in Kenya’s corporate management, with only 22 per cent representation, a new report on gender equality at the workplace shows.

According to the report launched by the Nairobi Securities Exchange, Equileap and New Faces New Voices on Wednesday, of the 60 companies listed on the NSE, only seven are headed by women.


No firm has achieved gender balance at the board, executive, senior management and general workforce levels. Women account for 23 per cent of board members, up from 21 per cent in 2017.

The study looked into four parameters when ranking the companies — commitment, transparency and accountability; gender balance in leadership and workforce; equal compensation as well as work-life balance and policies promoting gender equality.

Standard Chartered Bank Kenya led with 63 per cent while Nairobi Business Ventures was bottom at just three per cent.


Equileap chief executive Diana van Maasdijk said any company that scored 40 per cent and above was considered to be performing well in enhancing gender equality at the workplace.

Diageo, the top performing company globally this year, beat more than 3,500 others, according to the report.

Standard Chartered Bank (Kenya) therefore is within the top 50 companies worldwide which have a score of 61 per cent or above.


One of the reasons putting the bank in the lead is its policy on new mothers. Women returning from maternity leave are allowed flexible working hours and locations.

A nursing mother has the option of working from home.

The average score for Kenyan and Canadian companies is 26 per cent.

“This grade indicates that there is room for improvement in gender equality at the workplace,” the study says.

Barclays Bank of Kenya, Stanbic Holdings and WPP ScanGroup are the only companies that have met the balance of the four levels at the workplace. Kenya scores better than the United States in gender inclusion at the workplace. It scores 26 per cent against the US’ 25 per cent.

This difference affirms findings of the Equal Measures 2030 that lower-income countries do better in promoting gender equality.


The findings contained in the 2019 SDG Gender Index also show that the world still has a lot to do in achieving gender equality in every sector, especially in industry and innovation. Australia scores 44 per cent in adhering to gender equality at the workplace, a performance attributed to its policies on transparency and accountability.

The country has laws requiring firms to make public such information as staff salaries.

Barclays Bank, Centum, Deacons East Africa, Limuru Tea, Sameer Africa and Stanbic Holdings are the only NSE-listed firms that have gender-balanced boards.

Britam Holdings, East African Breweries, HF Group, Home Afrika, TransCentury and WPP ScanGroup have balanced representation in their executive teams.

The management of Barclays Bank, Kenya Airways, Kenya RE, Stanbic Holdings, Standard Chartered and WPP ScanGroup is gender-balanced, the report adds.


None of the 60 firms, however, publishes segregated information on their pay scales, making it impossible to identify gender salary gaps in corporate Kenya.

Ms Maasdijk said firms would not disclose the information, probably due to legal implications.

“They should be forced to make the information public. I would recommend providing a mean pay for different levels of job category,” she said.

She emphasised the importance of transparency in sustaining a productive, motivated and innovative gender equal workforce with data on salaries being a necessity.

Capital Markets Authority CEO Paul Muthaura said investors in companies can influence adherence to transparency and accountability.