Women’s entry into top salary ranks declines

Politician Sadaf Deen (right) during this year’s International Women’s Day celebrations in Mombasa on March 10.  PHOTO | WACHIRA MWANGI | NMG
Politician Sadaf Deen (right) during this year’s International Women’s Day celebrations in Mombasa on March 10. PHOTO | WACHIRA MWANGI | NMG 

Less than 1,000 women joined the ranks of those earning above Sh100,000 per month last year, underlining the gender pay gap in the economy.

Official data shows that only 912 female workers were hired or promoted to jobs paying at least Sh100,000, down from 1,141 in 2015.

This pales in comparison to 1,583 male employees who last year entered the special earning class of over Sh100,000 a month, down from 1,981 men in 2015.

The rift in gender pay comes amid growing calls for parity.

Last year’s income mobility slowdown is seen to work against women professionals who have in recent years sought to occupy senior positions in both corporate Kenya and public offices.


In total, only 74,293 Kenyans had monthly earnings in excess of Sh100,000 last year — equivalent to a paltry 2.9 per cent of formal sector employees of 2.6 million.

Out of this top-layer pay group, 27,154 were women or 37 per cent and 47,139 men with pay slips above Sh100,000 a month, according to data from Kenya National Bureau of Statistics.

The 27,154 females in the elite earning group accounted for a measly one per cent of the total pool of formal sector employees.

Women have in recent years made gains in corporate world, taking on management positions with high responsibilities and corresponding fat paychecks.

This is happening amid rising education levels among womenfolk, while more firms continue to open up executive suites to professional females for diversity and gender equity.

For instance, Safaricom, the most profitable company in Kenya, last month announced that women make up 51 per cent of its workforce and has attained gender pay parity.

“But we’re not at all happy about the pipeline of women who are coming through to senior positions,” Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore said last month during release of the company’s annual sustainability report.  

Human resource experts reckon that the more advanced and highly marketable skills an employee possesses, the higher the remuneration.

Other wage determinants are financial health of companies, the economy’s performance, cost of living and targets met or missed, according to Perminus Wainaina, managing director at Corporate Staffing Services (CSS).

Steady rise

The number of women earning more than Sh100,000 has climbed steadily from Sh24,413 in 2013, 25,101 a year later, 26,242 in 2015 and 27,154 last year – a rise of 11 per cent over the last four years.

The KNBS data shows that slightly over a quarter of the workforce earns less than Sh25,000 a month, making settlement of household bills a tricky balancing act, especially in Nairobi where the cost of housing and commuting is high.

Last year, Kenyan economy minted 2,495 additional jobs that pay more than Sh100,000 a month, a 20 per cent drop compared to 2015 when some 3,122 employees moved up the pay ladder to join the special class.