A report released by the Kenya Institute of management on board diversity in publicly listed companies indicates that representation of women in boardrooms has gone up to 21% in 2017 as compared to 12% in 2012. The statistics paint a positive picture of a country steadily embracing gender mainstreaming in corporate governance.
However, when it came to chairpersons’ positions, men outnumber the women by a ratio of 11 to 1 as the female representation stood at 7.7%. This figure has remained constant throughout the years in the studies conducted in 2012, 2015, and 2017. Out of the 52 companies sampled only 4 had female chairpersons. Despite the fact that Kenya is far from achieving gender parity, the percentage of chair positions held by women was higher when compared to other regions such as the Middle East and Africa which had 7.5%, Western Europe 5.0%, Eastern Europe 4.3%, Asia 1.5% and U.S & Canada 4.2%.
The report estimates that Kenya could achieve gender parity in corporate boardroom representation by 2030. Across the world, Norway leads the pack at 39%, Finland at 30%, France at 26%, Germany and United Kingdom at 17%, Australia at 15%, Spain at 13%, United States at 12%, Mexico at 6%, Japan and South Korea at 2%.
The representation of women in senior management like boards in Kenya was also low with women occupying only 26% of the positions from 44 publically listed companies in the study. Out of these 44 companies, 4 had no single woman on the team.
The report also looked at the age representation in Kenyan corporate boardrooms. The studies indicates that 0.2% were between the ages of 25-34, 12.2% between the age of 35-44, 52.5% between the age of 45-59 and 35.5% of the board members were above the age of 60.
The report found varying results on the impact of gender diversity on a company’s financial performance some positive, others negative and others neutral thus concluding that “efforts to increase boardroom diversity are best addressed through concerted efforts to recruit qualified professionals rather than quotas. This ensures that any effort towards board diversity produces a positive result on the financial performance of a company”. States the report
Despite the varying results, the report concluded that gender diversity is likely to have the greatest impact on organizations financial performance compared to the other diversity variables.