The KIM Board Report: We Need More Diversity And Inclusion


On Tuesday, 18th July 2017 saw the launch of the board diversity and inclusion report done by Kenya Institute of Management (KIM), supported by the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE), Barclays Bank and the New Faces, New Voices Network (NFNV).

The 2017 KIM Leadership and Diversity Report is a follow up to check up on progress made since 2012 and make a case for more diversity in boards. The Board of Directors, which is a strategic organ in every business, has a direct effect on its capacity to deliver; and the report reveals that diversity is a key business issue.

In many instances, diversity has been misconstrued to mean gender balance, this is however one aspect of it. It emphasises on the need for companies to not only diversify but to also include women, youth and citizens from marginalised areas to join the men at the decision making table. Other parameters include age, national balance, and professional skills among others.

We can all agree that today’s market is more dynamic with various changes and trends occurring almost every day across most markets, there is the need to ensure that companies are best equipped to anticipate and respond to these changes. The presence of a diverse and inclusive organization culture is one of the greatest business catalysts that exist to broaden the talent pipeline, enhance brand and corporate reputation.

From the recently launched report, these are the findings thus far;

Age Diversity

The average boardroom age globally is 60.6 years. Africa has some of the youngest board room members, only second to Western Europe.

During a group discussion at the launch, it was pointed out that the lack of millennials in the Boardroom poses a real risk, not just to businesses, but to society as a whole.

Caroline Ndungu, Corporate Affairs Director at Barclays Bank of Kenya said that millennials make the world’s biggest demographic group and are expected to make up over 50% of the workforce by 2020. Their inclusion in board rooms bring about an enormous amount of change, be it in the context of technology, business strategies and models, creativity and impulsivity which is sometimes essential in the decision-making directions of companies.

National Diversity

Globally, 24.8% of the board members are non-national and non-national women board members are represented by 25.6%. Further, only 62% of the 52 listed companies reviewed had non-nationals compared to the global average of 79% in listed companies elsewhere.

Low national diversity in senior management has been seen to directly affect performance due to the cultural barriers that beget low diversity.

Women Representation

High level findings show that gender diversity is still a mirage in many countries globally but there definitely exist concerted efforts to address this.

No market among those surveyed or compared with had achieved a 50:50 gender balance in the boardroom-in fact Kenya was a trailblazer in not only developing markets but even in  comparison to advance markets where women representation in board rooms is only at 17%.

In Kenya for example, Barclays Bank has been at the forefront of promoting gender friendly policies at the work place. In 1972, they came the first bank to appoint the first woman as branch supervisor, Agatha Obare. In the same year, Dr Mary Okelo was appointed Branch Manager for Nakuru but deferred to enable her take care of young family. She would take up the position in 1977, this time as Branch Manager for the Westlands branch.

They have been able to set the pace in the journey to achieve gender parity which now stands at a ratio of 48:52. This represents 48% of women and 52% of men.

There is still a long way to go but major strides are being made in companies all over the world. For example, women representation in the board rooms of listed companies rose up to 21% in 2017 up from 18% in 2015 and 14% in 2013

Companies have to make a deliberate move to nurture young people into leadership roles.

Barclays Bank is among the few companies that have implemented programs for the youth and women, to prepare them for future roles. The Ready To Work program is aiming to prepare university students for the job market through mentorship and capacity building.

Another budding program that Barclays has is She Trades. This is a platform that nurtures female entrepreneurs and business women through trainings, mentorship, connection to networks and markets for their products globally.

In whatever industry, achieving measurable positive impacts all begins with the decision to foster innovation, and that involves the people making these decisions. This is why today’s corporate leaders must guide their companies through the culture shift of embracing diversity and inclusiveness. Here is the Board Diversity Report 2017-KIM.

If you are interested in this check out Role of men in supporting women enterprises.

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