After discovering that most companies in Kenya do not have adequate female representation on their board membership, the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) will coordinate a series of forums targeted at creating more diversity in company boardrooms.
A recent survey of 57 of the 61 companies listed on the NSE indicates that of a total of 467 directors, only 43 are women out of which only four occupy the position of chairperson.
This is also in the spirit of fostering best practices in corporate governance spearheaded by NSE and they will take place during the course of 2014 and 2015.
The forums, which will focus on aspects of diversity and firm performance, will be structured as roundtable events targeting the Chairpersons, Chief Executive Officers, Company Secretaries and senior directors.
The first two events will take place in October 2014 and are sponsored by Barclays Bank of Kenya Ltd. Providing technical support and content guidance for the series is New Face New Voices (NFNV) – Kenya Chapter, a Pan African advocacy group.
“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,” said NSE Vice Chairman, Mr. Bob Karina.
“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,” added Mr. Karina.
Noting that the forums will put the NSE in a leadership position in terms of promoting sustainability practices, including the principles of diversity and inclusion, Ms. Andia Chakava, Director of NFNV – Kenya Chapter observed that the program was timely as several countries are responding to recommendations raised from research on board diversity, including the dimensions of ethnicity, gender, age and profession.
“The objective is to determine if there is scope for NSE to play a role in bridging the gaps that exist,” said Ms. Chakava. “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.”
Barclays Bank of Kenya recently announced the appointment of three women to their Board of Directors. The appointment brings to five, the total number of women in the 10 member board. The 50% gender representation makes Barclays board the most gender diverse of any listed firm in Kenya.
“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,” said Mr. Francis Okomo-Okello, Board Chairman, Barclays Bank of Kenya. “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.”
The Barclays sponsorship of Ksh. 1,000,000.00 (one million) will cover the event costs for two dialogues, namely the Chairpersons Roundtable and the Company Secretaries Forum.