•Female-led multinational corporations have a higher proportions of women in senior management (85%) compared to male-led corporations (83%).
•Male-owned companies also had slightly more women in senior management (89 per cent) than female-owned companies (85%).
Women command a bigger share of senior management positions in the manufacturing sector than men, a survey shows, despite missing out on opportunities in the general workforce dominated by men.
The first-ever 'Women in Manufacturing Report' by the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) shows men account for the largest share of overall workforce (64 per cent ), compared to 36 per cent representation for women.
Based on KAM membership, companies in the manufacturing sector are predominately male owned and staffed across all its fourteen manufacturing sub-sectors except for the chemical and allied sub-sector (50 per cent female).
The KAM manufacturing sub-sectors include agriculture-fresh produce, timber, wood and furniture, textiles and apparel, services and consultancy, plastics and rubber, pharmaceutical and medical equipment, paper and board, automotive and the metal and allied sector.
Others are leather and footwear, food and beverage, energy, electrical and electronics, chemical and allied, building, and mining and construction.
Of these, three sub-sectors have a female workforce of 40 per cent (agriculture and fresh produce, paper and board, and services and consultancy), with the rest of the sub-sectors having female workforce below 40 per cent.
“Most companies indicated that their female workforce were full-time employees with only electrical and electronics (50%), mining and constriction (33%), and food and beverage (20%) reporting that a proportion of their female workforce was employed on a part-time basis,” the report notes.
Results however indicated that female-led multinational corporations had a slightly higher proportions of women in senior management (85%) compared to male-led corporations (83%), which can partly be attributed to affirmative action policies that have become more common within multi-nationals.
Male-owned companies also had slightly more women in senior management (89 per cent) than female-owned companies (85%), “which could be due to commonly held beliefs by men that women are hardworking and more loyal than male employees”
Female-led local companies also had more women in senior management (88%) compared to male-led local companies (75%).
Family companies that were led by women also had more women in senior management (86%) than family companies led by men (71%).
“While the sample size of the online survey is small, these results point towards an association between women’s leadership,ownership and the inclusion of more women in senior management,” KAM led by CEO Phyllis Wakiaga notes in its report.
The report comes amid continued push by government to create more opportunities for women and the youth.
According to Industrialization, Trade and Enterprise Development Principal Secretary Francis Owino, the government has institutionalized affirmative action funds such as Women Enterprise Fund, Access to Government Procurement Opportunities (AGPO), Uwezo Fund, all aimed at creating a level playing field for women in the sector.
“We shall continue to work with private sector to eliminate discrimination in venturing into the sector, as well as do away with challenges that hinder women from soaring in the production of goods and services,” said PS Owino.
Nairobi County Women Representative Esther Passaris has emphasized the need for supportive legislation to ensure women’s participation in the economic development of the country.
“Whereas women need to be bold in the face of institutional and cultural barriers to their participation in key sectors, we need to develop legislation that supports them. This will ensure policy sustainability, which encourages increased investments in the sector,” Passaris said.
KAM Chair, Mucai Kunyiha, said: “We need to equip, mentor, and build women who will start businesses in the sector as well as take up decision- making positions.”
The Women in Manufacturing (WIM) programme, Chair, Flora Mutahi, said the report is a major step towards achieving women in manufacturing vision for equality, inclusivity and diversity in the sector.
Manufacturing makes up 23 per cent of micro-small and medium enterprises in the informal economy, with only 48 per cent of these businesses being licensed.
The majority of jobs (90 per cent) created in Kenya are in the informal economy, with 768,000 informal sector employees in 2019-Economic Survey.
Most of the jobs in the manufacturing sector are informal with formal employment representing only 12 per cent of the sector’s workforce.
Out of the total employees in the sector only 61,100 (17%) were women.
Current global trends aim to increase women’s participation in the workforce for increased innovation, creativity, and inclusion.
Manufacturing stakeholders in Kenya are increasingly becoming aware of the value of women’s inclusion and full participation in the sector for increased sustainability and return on investment.
KAM established the Women in Manufacturing Programme (WIM) in 2017 to increase participation of women in the manufacturing sector through providing a platform for mentorship, networking, skills, business, and market development support.
While Kenya has several key policies and frameworks, these have not translated into equitable participation of women in manufacturing.
“Existing gender inequalities in the manufacturing sector need to be addressed by careful consideration and a gender lens in policy formulation and implementation,” Wakiaga said.