Nairobi Securities Exchange Campaigns For Gender Equality In Company Boards
According to a recent survey of the 61 companies listed on the Nairobi Securities Exchanges (NSE), 57 of those companies with a total of 467 directors, of which 43 are women. Perhaps even more surprising is that only four of the 43 women serve in the position of a chairperson.
After this survey, the NSE has set itself out on a course to equalize the gender imbalance on Board memberships. It intends to achieve this by coordinating a series of forums aimed at creating a gender balance in the various companies’ boardrooms. This is also part of the NSE’s initiative for the year 2014 and 2015 to foster good corporate governance practices.
The forums will mainly pay attention to the concepts of diversity and organisations’ performances. They will be structured in the form of a roundtable event, bringing together Chairpersons, CEOs, Company Directors and Secretaries.
The first two forums will be held in October 2014 and will be sponsored by Barclays Banks of Kenya while the New Face New Voices (NFNV) – Kenya Chapter, (a pan-African advocacy group), will be providing content guidance and technical support.
Bob Karina, NSE Vice Chairman, said, “The Leadership and Diversity agenda is one that resonates with the Exchange and many of the listed firms and we believe by providing this platform, the NSE will enable the companies to define commonalities among the various aspects of diversity and determine where the NSE can create frameworks for information and best practice sharing, as well as support capacity building.
We are glad to be partnering with New Faces New Voices on this initiative and thank Barclays for coming on board to sponsor the events. In addition, the forum will give us an opportunity to sensitize the firms about the new Corporate Governance Code that has been developed by the Capital Markets Authority and also incorporates elements of the role diversity plays in good governance.”
Andia Chakava, the Director of NFNV – Kenya Chapter, said that the program comes at a good time when other countries are moving forward to implement recommendations from the research on board diversity. That included a fair representation of gender, ethnicity, profession and age. Chakava further noted that the upcoming forums will place the NSE in a leadership position in regards to promoting sustainable practices that also includes the principles of diversity and inclusion.
“The objective is to determine if there is scope for NSE to play a role in bridging the gaps that exist. Companies listed on the NSE will benefit from this structured engagement with the view to determine the issues faced in advancing the ‘Leadership and Diversity’ agenda. As New Faces New Voices, we are very proud to help steer this initiative,” said Chakava.
Of all the companies listed on the NSE, only Barclays Bank of Kenya has a 50% gender representation after recently appointing three more women to its Board of Directors, bringing the total number of women on its Board to five. The Board is made up ten members.
Francis Okomo-Okello, Board Chairman, Barclays Bank of Kenya said, “We have put in place a deliberate strategy to promote diversity at all levels of our business so as to ensure we maintain our relevance with the demographics, we serve. Diversity creates a melting pot of ideas, which if properly harnessed, is very important to any business.
We are, therefore, pleased to be sharing how Barclays is promoting the diversity and inclusion agenda in our governance structures, human resources and business practices, as well as our commercial strategy both at the local and global levels, .”