Study faults Kenyan companies for not prioritising women C-suite integration


Only 29 percent of women in Kenya are regarded as empowered, according to data released in 2020. FILE PHOTO | SHUTTERSTOCK

Advancing women in leadership is not a formal business priority for the majority of Kenyan organisations, new research shows.

Even though it seems like there are advancements in achieving gender parity in the number of women at the C-suite level, the study shows that there are not enough women in the middle-management tiers, putting future leadership attainment in peril.

According to a new global study Women In Leadership: Why Perception Outpaces The Pipeline—And What To Do About It by the IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV) and Chief, in cooperation with Oxford Economics, in spite of the existence of a roadmap for sustainable progress, the leadership pipeline for women has hollowed out in the middle, an occurrence exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The study which involved 2,500 organisations in 12 countries and 10 industries, including Kenyan ones, found the number of women at the C-suite level or executive-level managers within companies in Kenya such as chief executive officer (CEO), chief financial officer (CFO), chief operating officer (COO), and chief information officer (CIO), were at a paltry 11 percent and Board level at 10 percent.

This is below the global representation of 12 percent for both C-suite and Board levels.

On a positive note, Kenya has a higher representation of women in junior professional and specialist roles when compared to the global average of 41 percent to 40 percent respectively.

According to the study, the global pipeline for top leadership positions is yet to recover to pre-pandemic levels.

It adds that the knock-on effect has been even more stagnant in senior professional and non-executive managerial positions as the global percentage of women holding these positions stands at 30 percent and in Kenya at 29 percent.

In addition, fewer than half (47 percent) of Kenyan organisations (2 percent) higher than the global figure of (45 percent) surveyed in the report indicated they have made advancing more women into leadership roles a top, formal business priority.

“While we’re pleased to see slight progress in the representation of women in junior professional/specialist roles in Kenya when compared to the global levels, it’s imperative that companies do more to fill the pipeline that leads to an increase in C-suite and Board level positions including furthering the participation in junior and specialists roles,” said Co-Founder and Chief Brand Officer of Chief, Lindsay Kaplan.

“Our previous research has shown that enabling equity and inclusion gives organizations a competitive edge, yet many local companies do not act as if their success depends on it,” said General Manager, IBM East Africa, Caroline Mukiira.

“To thrive in a rapidly changing world, Kenyan organizations must prioritise advancing women – and all historically under-represented groups – and take action to challenge structural barriers and unconscious bias.”

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