Financial institution, Standard Bank which operates as Stanbic Bank in Kenya
, announced last week that it has joined the HeForShe movement, a United Nations initiative that, among other things, champions gender equality in the workplace.
The bank is seeking to improve the representation of women in executive positions at its organisation from its current 32 per cent to 40 per cent by 2023 and increase the representation of women on the board from 22 per cent to 33 per cent by 2021.
Research shows that gender diversity in the top management team and in the board of directors enhances a company’s performance in all circumstances.
“Attaining gender equity is a moral duty, a business imperative, and just plain common sense. Women represent half the world’s talent, skill and energy – and more than half of its purchasing power. So all sensible business leaders must be steadfast to attaining gender equity in their company and to contribute to gender equity in the societies in which we operate,” said Sim Tshabalala, CEO, Standard Bank Group.
Generally, in Kenya, women representation in listed companies’ boardroom stands at 21 per cent as of 2017 which is an increase from 18 per cent in 2015, according to 2017 research conducted by the Kenya Institute of Management.
However, the report still noted that board chairperson’s positions are still mostly held by men with only 7.7 per cent being women and only five of the 52 companies studied had female chairpersons.
Additionally, in top management, women representation is also lacking at 26 per cent, meaning there is one woman for every three men in top management teams.
“Overall, diversity is a crucial component of any successful and growth-oriented business strategy. Leaders know that a strong diversity and inclusion strategy is vital to bottom-line success and they deeply understand the business case for building the staff that is reflective of the evolving demographics of the market and the opportunities afforded with diversity as a competitive advantage,” reported KIM.
The lack of gender diversity at the top management in companies is considered a handicap for corporate performance in most companies as women possess some crucial leadership qualities that men lack.
Women in senior management are more likely than their male counterparts to champion policies that benefit the environment, helping the companies build their sustainability policies.
In a 2012 research, it was found that companies that incorporate women in their top management team and board of directors exhibit superior environmental performance, with the impact being greater from the board.
It was conducted by professors from the University of California and Harvard University and it focused on the Impact of Women Top Managers and Directors on Corporate Environmental Performance.
They sampled 500 large US firms looking at the effects of women leadership on corporate environmental performance in general, the relative magnitude of these effects across the categories of women management, and the extent to which the impact of women in leadership exhibits threshold effects.
“We measured the inclusion of women in a firm’s top management team and board of directors; we counted the number of women in a firm’s top management team and the total of women on its board of directors.
“Firms that incorporate women exhibit superior environmental performance as women top managers and directors might be more likely than their male counterparts to champion policies that benefit the environment” reported the professors.
Additionally, they found that women are, on average, more ethical than men thus reducing instances of company reputation damage.
Women are more likely to be interpersonally oriented and to use participative approaches when managing subordinate, to involve others in decision-making thereby exhibiting leadership behaviours characteristic of a transformational as opposed to a transactional style.
– African Laughter