NSE firms fail to disclose key data on gender pay gap


NSE firms fail to disclose key data on gender pay gap
An illustration of the gender pay gap.

In Summary

  • The report by global women rights advocacy Equileap further shows none of the 61 listed firms have firmed measures towards the closing of the gap estimated at an above average 32 percent by the UN backed World Empowerment Principles (WEP) advocacy.

Publicly listed firms have failed to disclose key data on gender segregated pay pointing to the limited transparency in gender parity within the country’s workforce, a new report shows.

The report by global women rights advocacy Equileap revealed that none of the 61 listed firms have measures towards the closing of the gap estimated at an above average 32 percent by the UN backed World Empowerment Principles (WEP) advocacy.

Moreover, 62 percent of firms bare no information on the gender composition of their workforce to further expound on the gender parity blur inside Kenyan firms.

Better than the U.S

Nevertheless, gender equality at the workplace sits at par with global leaders with an average score of 26 percent and betters the performance of global economic leaders including the United States and Japan.

Women in Kenya account for 22 percent of all executive officers/CEOs to better female directorship roles at Fortune 500 companies (7 percent) and FTSE 100 listed firms (6 percent)

The Communications sub-sector accounts for the highest score in parity at 34 percent surpassing the global average score of 30.

At the same-time, Kenyan firms have a solid representation of women across all four levels beating the global average score across the board even as more women fall under the general workforce segment at 43 percent.

Standard Chartered Kenya leads all other firms with a gender equality score of 63 percent.

The Tier 1 Lender is among three of the only companies that offer a living wage and offers paid leave to primary care givers (mostly mothers) for up to 20 weeks/5 months.

Other firms on the top 10 list include; the WPP Scangroup, Safaricom, Barclays, Kenya Airways, Kenya Re, KenGen, Stanbic, KCB and the East African Breweries Limited (EABL)

Equal pay

While the public listed firms in the country measure up to the global leaders including Australia, France and Sweden, the non-disclosure of pay difference leaves a gaping hole to the assessment of full gender parity and is controversial as it is secretive.

By WEP’s own account Kenyan women take home a lesser Ksh.68 for every Ksh.100 paid out to a man.

To enforce transparency in gender pay parity, other jurisdictions including the United Kingdom and Australia have forced entities to publish data on pay differences raising public uproar on the observed disparity.

Eight in 10 UK firms are, for instance, guilty of paying out more on average to men than women in spite of there being legislation to guide equal pay.

As such, UK women are expected to work for free for the rest of the year owing to the disparity in pay beginning Thursday, November 14.

Equileap Executive Director Diana van Maasdijk recommends for a similar ‘naming and shaming’ of firms who flaunt equal pay provisions through enforced disclosures in Kenya as part of interventions to close in to gender pay parity which is only projected to close out in 2073.

“This would help as we wouldn’t need to have this conversation for months or years within board rooms,” she said.

Capital Markets Authority (CMA) Chief Executive Officer Paul Muthaura is however all too weary of the impact of full disclosures on pay on public perception.

According to Mr. Muthaura, disclosures should only serve to create positive pressure towards compliance to parity provisions as condemnation would only serve to disincentive declarations by firms.

“Disclosures should be weighed against encouraging firms to trend in the right direction or the striking of fear which may translate to under and misrepresentation disclosures,” he said.

World over, the parity of gender pay has taken precedence owing to the continued stay of troubling gender pay gaps world over with the discrepancy estimates at 30 percent on average.

Most recently, the US female soccer team has taken the push for equal pay to new heights having employed the disparity in pay to their male counterparts as motivation to clinch the World Cup for a record fourth time.

In Kenya, the attainment of gender parity at the workplace remains paramount as women who account for 52 percent of the population remain behind their male counterparts on key parity metrics.

Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) Chief Executive Officer Geoffrey Odundo says gender parity in firms serves to expand company productivity and competitiveness in the face of changing investor sentiment.

“Investors are not only looking at financials anymore. It’s not just about the return but also the safety of their investment. Having a composite of women on boards has provided mitigation against very aggressive positions taken mostly by men in decision making,” he said.

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Story By Kepha Muiruri
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