Empowering African Businesses

Quotas are key to getting more women on boards

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Policy makers have been urged to refine existing laws compelling State corporations and private companies to put more women in their boardrooms.
Previous attempts by Government bodies and women-focused organizations to press for legal quotas on Kenya’s businesses have proven highly controversial among Members of Parliament (MPs).
But now there are renewed calls from different institutions challenging an introduction of a mandatory quota system that will give 30 percent board seats to women.
Gladys Ogallo, the Managing Director of Virtual HR, says the idea has the potential to substantially alter the landscape of corporate governance in the country.

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“Such a law would help give women key decision making roles and work to the full advantage of the institutions that embrace them by exposing them to a wider pool of talent and ideas,’’ she says.
Recent survey by the Kenya Institute of Management, showed that only 20 percent of seats in State agencies and corporate boards in Kenya are held by women – with most still lagging in corporate offices, on governing boards and in pay, while many are still struggling with family-work policies.
European countries like Norway, Spain, France and Iceland all have workable legislate boardroom quotas that have all set their minimums at 40 percent. Italy has a quota of one-third, Belgium of 30 percent and the Netherlands a 30 percent with a nonbinding target.
“These measures do not have to happen overnight. The law can be implemented in phases. Phase One would have the country’s 50 biggest institutions implement the law over a period of one year so we can see how it comes through. Phase Two would see other companies follow suit with agreed deadlines in place,” added Ogallo.

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