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Women poorly represented in public utility boardrooms, says survey

NEWS
By Dominic Omondi | March 15th 2016

Africa's public utility boardrooms, including those for electricity, water and telecoms are jam-packed with men, a new research has shown.

The Ernst and Young report on Women in Power and Utilities Index 2016 shows Africa and the Middle East have the lowest percentage of female board executives.

The Americas, led by Latin America with nine per cent, have the highest percentage of female board executives followed closely by Europe (seven per cent). These regions also top the list for the percentage of women in non-executive board roles. Asia-Pacific had the lowest percentage of women board executives.

The report comes a time when a number of local women CEOs in public utility firms have been elbowed out of pole positions in what some observers have been quick to interpret as gender harassment.

With 345 women out of a total of 2,149 positions (16 per cent) currently in board roles across the globe, it will take 515 more women appointed to reach just 40 per cent representation. And to grow from the existing five per cent women in board executive roles to 10 per cent requires another 24 women to be appointed.

Gitahi Gachahi, EY Eastern Africa Regional Managing Partner petitions companies to strive to have a corporate culture that allows women to sit on their boards.

"Most women are very industrious, enterprising and focused on bringing difficult perspectives in the boardroom, thus enriching the corporate agenda. They have a longer-term vision, with a keen eye on business sustainability."

The Kenya Institute of Management (KIM) also did an analysis on gender representation in State corporations and concluded that, State corporation board composition comprises 20 per cent women and 80 per cent men. In listed corporations, only 12 per cent of the board members were women.

Factors affecting women representation on boards in both listed companies and state corporations, according to KIM, are both historical and cultural.

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