The Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) is seeking to have more women occupy at least a third of senior positions in listed companies in order to reap the benefits of gender parity.
On Wednesday, NSE became the second bourse in the continent after South Africa’s Johannesburg Securities Exchange to join the 30% Club, a global gender equality lobby group.
Founded in the UK in 2010 by Helena Morrissey, the group, made up of board chairs and chief executives from across the world, champions for the appointment of women in top positions in company boards and top management.
NSE Chief Executive Geoffrey Odundo said the firm will use its position to push for gender diversity in the 62 listed companies.
Female representation remains low with less than 10 NSE-listed companies led by women and only two have attained gender parity in the composition of their boards.
“Our 62 listed companies are focusing on sustainability in corporate governance. This (diversity) is not just a good thing to do, it has been proven to bring results. In the companies that have diversified their management, we are seeing a very close co-relation between a good performance of its share price because of good governance due to diversity,” he said.
Women at the helm of firms listed on the bourse are Jane Karuku of East African Breweries Limited #ticker:EABL (appointed in 2020), Nasim Devji of Diamond Trust Bank #ticker:DTB (2001), Rebecca Miano of KenGen #ticker:KEGN (2017), and Gerridina Den of Limuru Tea #ticker:LIMT (2019).
Others are Marion Gathoga-Mwangi of BOC Kenya #ticker:BOC (2018), Margaret Odhiambo of Eveready #ticker:EVRD (2019), Nozipho Makhoba of Stanlib (2018).
Mr Odundo said only about 21 per cent of senior management positions are occupied by women despite the wide array of skills they bring to leadership roles.
“The 30% Club is really a welcome membership for the NSE as we have been driving support towards enhancing diversity on boards through interventions like the Equilibrium Research participation and ringing of the Women’s Day bell every March. These are just part of all interventions we are trying to do to encourage companies to drive the process,” he said.
Last year, the NSE inked a pact with gender equality data and insights provider Equileap and New Faces New Voices to conduct a joint study to evaluate Kenyan- listed companies’ performance on gender equality.
The Nairobi bourse CEO said managerial diversity is part of the NSE’s sustainability agenda in partnership with the UN Sustainable Stock Exchanges initiative, which is marked by ‘Ring the Bell for Gender Equality’ on International Women’s Day.
He said there has been a historical exclusion and understatement of the ability of women to perform in positions that have long been considered a reserve for men, with only about 18 per cent of top positions in leading firms in the so-called developed countries being held by women.
The 30% Club head of chapter for Kenya Zuhura Ogada said in addition to women occupying at least a third of leadership positions in firms, there must be equal pay with their male counterparts in similar roles.
“This initiative is not just about gender, it’s also about what the women bring to the table. But it is also about fairness, fair that the women are paid equally with males in the same positions. We are not pushing diversity and inclusion only with the listed companies but also MSMEs (micro, small and medium-sized enterprises) are a critical part of the Kenyan economy,” Ms Ogada said.