Nairobi, Tuesday, August 2, 2016… Banks have today been challenged to come up with initiatives that will lead to an inclusion of more women in positions of leadership in line with the Sustainable Development Goal on Gender Equality which calls for gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls by the year 2030. This was said today at a forum hosted by the Kenya Bankers Association (KBA) for Leading Women in Banking and Finance in partnership with the Central Bank, Diamond Trust Bank, Citi Bank Kenya, Guaranty Trust Bank and Postbank, where the banking and finance sector were challenged to do more to promote inclusivity of women at senior management positions and board.
Speaking at the event, cabinet secretary for National Treasury, Henry Rotich, reiterated the need for the banking sector to embrace gender inclusion and balance in the workplace in line with existing benchmarks in the country and beyond. “The two-thirds gender principle currently being exercised in the public sector should be an option to be considered by the banking and financial sector if we are to nurture a climate conducive for the growth and development of women-run businesses and enterprises, all this toward our commitment as a nation to achieve both the Vision 2030 and Sustainable Development Goals,” he said. “Leadership positions must not be restricted to management and senior management levels for women. Leadership opportunities for women, in this sector and indeed all sectors of our economy, must transcend this stage and infiltrate the boardroom to have more women taking up board positions in order to provide the much-needed gender balance there,” he added. Speaking at the occasion, Central Bank of Kenya Deputy Governor, Sheila M’Mbijjewe reiterated the need for structured mentoring and coaching for young women in the sector in order to model women leaders in the finance and banking sector. She also challenged banks and leading women in the sector to do to provide services to women clients in rural areas. Also speaking at the event, KBA CEO, Mr. Habil Olaka said that the banking sector is working to ensure that leadership diversity is an essential part of making sure that women have access to more relevant financial services. “In lending a hand to this vision of women’s’ economic empowerment through the banking sector, there is huge benefit to be gained for our institutions. Moreover, there lies great economic benefit for our country when we purpose to invest in women-led, women-oriented, and women inclusive startups and SMEs in all spheres of the economy, “he said. According to a 2015 report by the Institute of Directors of Kenya, covering both the private and the public sector, the financial services industry (which includes banks and insurance companies) has the lowest number of women representation. Women account for 12 per cent of representation in banks’ boards, while the insurance sector has a 15 per cent representation. “We owe it to ourselves and the sector to improve and support women in our profession. Given that their empowerment is inextricably intertwined with the growth of the financial sector and the country’s economy, it is only appropriate that we demonstrate our commitment and support,” said Mr. Olaka. Among other speakers at the forum included KBA Chairman and Standard Chartered Regional CEO Lamin Manjang, Diamond Trust Bank CEO, Nasim Devji, Citibank Managing Director Joyce-Ann Wainaina, Guaranty Trust (GT) Bank East Africa Managing Director Ibukunoluwa Odegbaike, Spire Bank Chairperson, Teresa Mutegi, Sharon Maviala, Board Member of Nairobi Securities Exchange, and Mehnaz Safavian, Lead Financial Sector Specialist at World Bank. During the forum, KBA launched the Amari professional network which is a LinkedIn based platform that will serve as a database of the industry’s leading women; and the Amari Book Club which will curate leading titles that help women develop their leadership skills and style. The book club will be hosted by KBA on FaceBook. The meeting, attended by government bodies and leading banks’ women representatives, was sponsored by KBA, Diamond Trust Bank, Citi and GT Bank, and sought to create and enhance awareness of the value of gender parity. Notable guests in attendance were Kellen Kariuki, CEO of Unclaimed Financial Assets Authority, Catherine Kimaryo, Director of PTA Bank Regional Office, and Rose Mambo, CEO of the Central Depository and Settlement Corp. (CDSC). Session facilitators were Laila Macharia, Board Member of Barclays and Centum, who also is Vice Chair of the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA), KBA Director Nuru Mugambi, James Mangerere of Mediation Training Institute, Patricia Murugami of Strathmore Business School, Maryanne Mwaura, Public Affairs Officer of Citi, Anne Kinuthia, Retail Products Director of Barcalys and media personality Kobi Kihara. The forum also sought to fully and effectively enhance women participation, women empowerment and attainment of gender parity and equal opportunities for leadership for women.