Kenyan firms struggling with gender inequality, corruption: UN

Lise Kingo, executive director UN Global Compact. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NMG
Lise Kingo, executive director UN Global Compact. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NMG 

Kenyan companies lead their African peers in the race to adopt sustainable business practices even as they struggle with gender inequality, graft and failure by firms to publish sustainability reports, the United Nations has said.

The UN Global Compact executive director, Lise Kingo, Thursday said that Kenyan firms account for nearly a third of its membership base in Africa after signing up to its binding creed of sustainable pillars like anti-corruption, gender equity, labour, governance and environment.

“Kenya provides us with the largest membership in Africa and that’s quite encouraging since it shows more firms here are striving to reach sustainability goals,” Ms Kingo said in an interview in Nairobi where she is on an official visit.

The agency has a membership pool of 650 companies in Africa, with Kenya leading with 200 firms.

The New York-based UN arm, which also promotes sound principles in financial markets, has cited failure by African firms to prepare and publish annual sustainability reports, noting that only a handful are doing so.

KCB Bank #ticker:KCB and Safaricom #ticker:SCOM are the only firms listed on the Nairobi Securities Exchange #ticker:NSE that currently publish their annual sustainability reports.

Pay gap

The UN also faulted the enduring gender-pay gap in the corporate scene.

“Gender pay inequality has, unfortunately, remained with us for unacceptably too long across the world,” said Ms Kingo, adding that the agency has rolled out a programme to encourage firms to narrow the gap.

The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) data shows that only 912 female workers joined the ranks of those earning above Sh100,000 per month last year, underlining the pay gap problem in the country.

This pales in comparison to 1,583 male employees who last year entered the special earning class of over Sh100,000 a month.