Initially, the regulator wanted companies to abide by the guidelines without making it legal, but CMA Chairman Kung’u Gatabaki complained of lethargy in appointing women to the boards.
He said the issue of men dominating boards is overdue and it was time the corporate world supports women leadership.
“Guidelines are like verses in the Bible. The priest will come and quote a certain verse; don’t do this, don’t do that. But it’s still up to you to decide whether to do it or not. And that is how the Capital Markets have operated for the last 14 to 15 years,” Gatabaki said.
He however said this is a process that will involve all stakeholders to ensure that everyone embraces the change.
“When I initially started appealing to some companies heads to take on board at least a third of ladies as directors, they would tell me, ‘no, you don’t tell us, we will consider when to do it,” he said.
The CMA chairman was speaking during a women’s forum on Friday organised by the Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE) in Nairobi, ahead of the International Women’s Day on Saturday.
Gatabaki however challenged women to be daring and apply for some of the top jobs instead of shying away.
“We embarked on revising our good corporate governance code and guess what? I picked a lady to chair that process. Because again, it’s those fine things that men ignore,” he said.
During the event, FKE graduated 15 local women from its inaugural Female Future Program, which is designed to help prepare board-ready women to obtain corporate board roles.
The key steps in the Female Future Program include how to manage a large audience and negotiate issues, providing leadership at the apex, managing organisations effectively and showing that leadership skills are not gender based.
“I didn’t always plan to be a CEO because I knew the cost of leadership at that level. But it’s very satisfying to get to a position where you can lead an organisation and also open up opportunities for other women to come into managerial positions,” says FKE Chief Executive Officer Jacqueline Mugo.
Mugo however called on men to support women leadership by viewing it as a positive change and not as being against the so called African culture.
“As a woman you really need a very strong family support to succeed in leadership so that we don’t have a situation where most women who are rising in their careers, have to sacrifice their personal lives; either in broken marriages or a negative an impact on the children,” Mugo urged.