Corporate Kenya is still a man’s world, says gender equity report

Saturday November 16 2019

Rachel Shebesh

Rachel Shebesh, the Chief Administrative Secretary of the Ministry of Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs at the launch of 'The Gender Equality In the Workplace Report' on November 13, 2019. Kenya lacks a legislative framework enforcing a public disclosure of firm’s pay scales, key an indicator of gender pay gaps. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NMG 

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

Further, no company has achieved a gender balance at all four levels, that is, board, executive, senior management and general workforce.

In totality, women account for 23 per cent of board members up from 21 percent in 2017.
According to The Gender Equality In the Workplace Report jointly prepared by the NSE, Equileap and New Faces New Voices and launched on November 13 in Nairobi, of the 60 firms listed on the National Securities Exchange, only seven were headed by women.

The report looks into four parameters in ranking the firms, that is, commitment, transparency and accountability, gender balance in leadership and workforce, equal compensation as well as work-life balance, policies promoting gender equality.

Of the 60 firms surveyed, Standard Chartered Bank Kenya led with a score of 63 per cent while Nairobi Business Ventures closed the list with a 3 per cent score.

Diana van Maasdijk, chief executive officer of Equileap said a firm that scored above 40 per cent was considered to be performing better in enhancing gender equality values at the workplace.


Overall, average score for the the Kenyan companies is 26 per cent which is comparable to the Canadian companies’ average score of 27 per cent, the report shows.

“This score is an indication that there is room for improvement in gender equality in the workplace,” the partners indicated in the report.

Only three firms have met that balance at three of the four levels namely Barclays Bank of Kenya, Stanbic Holdings and WPP Scangroup.

In comparison on gender inclusion in the workplace, Kenya is performing well than better than US, a super power economy with $19.39 trillion Gross Domestic Product.

Kenya, whose GDP stands at $74.94 billion has a gender equality scorecard of 26 per cent against the 25 percent for the US.

This difference in performance of Kenya versus US 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 all countries across the world still have a lot to do in achieving gender equality in every development sector especially in industry, innovation and infrastructure.

Globally, Australia has a score of 44 per cent on adherence to gender equality in the workplace performance attributed to its policies on corporate transparency and accountability. The country’s laws require firms to make public such information as payment structure for staff.

Kenya lacks a legislative framework enforcing a public disclosure of firm’s pay scales, key an indicator of gender pay gaps.

None of the 60 companies surveyed, however, publishes gender segregated information on their pay scales, a dearth making it impossible to identify gender pay gaps in the corporate sector in Kenya.

“There is limited transparency among companies in the dataset. No company discloses gender segregated pay information yet,” says the report.

Equileap CEO said the firms would not disclose the information while responding to query of why the non-disclosure during the launch.

Ms van Maasdijk, however, implied to the corporates’ fear of legal implications as the statistics would display pay disparities which raise concerns among the respective employees.

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