It’s indeed a man’s world, or is it?
What you need to know:
- Kussco is marking its 50th anniversary, but its 16-member board is an all-male affair, despite spirited efforts to promote gender equality.
- Advocating gender diversity matters because men’s and women’s brains are wired differently.
- Enlightened organisation heads appreciate the advantages of diversity and inclusivity.
Last Thursday, my boss walked into my office holding the day’s copy of the Daily Nation. He said: “Dorcas, if you see this, you will have a meltdown.”
He pointed me to an advertisement by Kussco, which was marking its 50th anniversary. It had photos of the organisation’s board of directors – 16 men! Not a single woman. Of course, I was infuriated. I took a photo of the page and posted it on my social media platforms.
Most responses to the social media post, especially from men, were okay with it. Sad.
The advert attracted outrage from Kenyans and women’s rights organisations. On the same day, a local newspaper had, on its cover page, photos of President William Ruto’s Security Council – eight men! I must say it was not a good day for me.
Back to the boards … our Constitution says women and men have the right to equal opportunities. For women, however, breaking the glass ceiling is a huge challenge. They have traditionally been underrepresented on boards although their global representation may have doubled in the past decade, albeit sluggishly. Board members, who play a big role in corporate decision-making, are still more likely to be male. Sadly, in the 21st Century, we still have boards that have 100 per cent men – the nerve!
The global average of women on company boards was a dismal 19.7 per cent in 2021, according to Deloitte’s 2022 Women in the Boardroom report.
The value of women in leadership and on boards, in particular, cannot be overemphasised. Incorporating them ensures equality in decision-making.
The female talent pool remains underutilised at decision-making levels despite the growing number of qualified women in the workforce. Advocating gender diversity matters because men’s and women’s brains are wired differently. Enlightened organisation heads appreciate the advantages of diversity and inclusivity.
The healthy exchange of viewpoints brings fresh perspectives and richer context to board deliberations.
I think the law needs to force equal gender representation on us. Gender quotas would force organisations and governments to identify female talent for their leadership structure.
Several countries have adopted gender quota legislation. In some countries, companies that don’t comply face legal penalties. I wish it was the same here. Although the 2010 Constitution established a gender quota, Parliament and government organs, despite several court orders, have yet to pass it. And the struggle continues.
Meanwhile, Sunday marks Menstrual Hygiene Day. An entire day dedicated to discussing periods and the importance of advocating menstrual hygiene. This is a critical day to break the silence on a topic that makes many people uneasy for no good reason.
Although menstrual hygiene focuses on access to sanitary towels and appropriate toilets, which are important, it is also about ensuring women and girls live in environments that value and support their ability to manage their menstruation with dignity.
Read our story on page 4-5, and hear what former CS Sicily Kariuki has to say on this issue, then play your part.