Kenya to Set Quotas for Female Directors in Corporate Governance Code

”Kenya’s Capital Markets Authority (CMA) is reviewing the Code of Corporate Governance that will among other things make sure women representation on boards of public listed companies is legalised.

Initially, the regulator wanted companies to abide by the guidelines without making it legal, but CMA Chairman Kung’u Gatabaki complained of lethargy in appointing women to the boards.

He said the issue of men dominating boards is overdue and it was time the corporate world supports women leadership.

“Guidelines are like verses in the Bible. The priest will come and quote a certain verse; don’t do this, don’t do that. But it’s still up to you to decide whether to do it or not. And that is how the Capital Markets have operated for the last 14 to 15 years,” Gatabaki said.

Not long ago the Kenya Institute of Management carried our survey which showed that among the state corporation board composition comprises of 20% women and 80% men. In listed corporations only 12% of the board compositions were female.

“When I initially started appealing to some companies heads to take on board at least a third of ladies as directors, they would tell me, ‘no, you don’t tell us, we will consider when to do it,” he said.

The CMA chairman was speaking during a recent women’s forum organised by the Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE) in Nairobi.

Gatabaki however challenged women to be daring and apply for some of the top jobs instead of shying away.

“We embarked on revising our good corporate governance code and guess what? I picked a lady to chair that process. Because again, it’s those fine things that men ignore,” he said.

During the event, FKE graduated 15 local women from its inaugural Female Future Program, which is designed to help prepare board-ready women to obtain corporate board roles.

“I didn’t always plan to be a CEO because I knew the cost of leadership at that level. But it’s very satisfying to get to a position where you can lead an organisation and also open up opportunities for other women to come into managerial positions,” Jacqueline Mugo, the FKE Chief Executive Officer said.

Mugo however called on men to support women leadership by viewing it as a positive change and not something against African culture.

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