By Flora Mutahi

 

Chairlady, Kenya Association of Manufacturers and Global Compact Signatory

 

As we mark the International Women’s Day, I am reminded that women’s representation in high-level corporate leadership in Africa remains critically low.

A 2015 research by the African Development Bank (AFD) indicates that, of the 12 African countries surveyed, Kenya scored the highest at 19.8% representation with South Africa at 17.4% and Botswana at 16.9%.

Kenya’s good performance, relative to its neighbors, can be attributed to affirmative action and progressive public sector policies. The Constitution of Kenya requires a one-third gender representation in Government and state corporations.

As a key vector of economic activity, the private sector has an opportunity and responsibility to create a larger impact towards gender equality and women empowermentwithin their sphere of influence. Though the one – third rule does not apply to the private sector, there are a number of positive initiatives geared towards realizing diversity in boards.

As the first woman chairperson of the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) since its establishment in 1959, I recognize the importance of women’s participation in driving industrial transformation for job creation and inclusive economic growth. KAM will be forming a Women in Manufacturing platform that seeks to grow, challenge and mentor women owned industries to scale up and realize their potential.

By Lilian Gikandi

Global Compact Network Kenya Support Officer

The changing societal context is prompting companies to rethink how they understand and approach 'value' creation. Businesses narrow focus on the bottom line coupled with the annual charitable initiative covered  by the media is increasingly being re-shaped by environmental, social and governance factors. While reaching out to the needy is not at all bad, it is time to expand the narrative.

Business no longer exist to just make money; the well-being of employees, communities and the planet is inevitably tied to the health of the business. Business has an opportunity to create societal value, have motivated employees, have a more competitive advantage and have a chance to share emerging and best practices.

Some companies in Kenya have notably started publishing annual corporate sustainability reports showing their value add on social and environmental aspects.  Safaricom through KPMG’s True value methodology created a total value of 414 Billion in their 2016 sustainability report. While this kind of reporting has not gained much popularity, it definitely influences the consumer’s decision making process.