On 27th August 2010, Kenya promulgated a new constitutional dispensation which became one of the most progressive laws in the country's history. Kenyan women received full legal recognition, and the government has since enacted laws requiring the inclusion of women in all strata of Kenyan society.
The constitution calls for affirmative action programs designed to redress disadvantages suffered by individuals or groups because of past discrimination. Furthermore, it dictates that the state shall take action to implement visible gender parity by ensuring that no more than two-thirds of any state organization or body be of the same gender. While the enactment of laws is a welcome step, significant and long-lasting change can only be put into effect with the right people in the right positions.
- KenGen: Pulling Women to the Top
Kenya Electricity Generating Company PLC (KenGen), the largest power generator in East Africa, has actively played a leading role in efforts to empower women within Kenya’s corporate sector from the top down. In 2017, Mrs. Rebecca Miano became the company's first female managing director and Chief Executive Officer. MD Miano earned the position as a result of her tireless and consistent performance at the company from 1997 as a legal officer following KenGen’s split for Kenya Power, formerly KPC.
Rebecca Miano is a graduate of the University of Nairobi where she earned an undergraduate degree before going on to receive a master's degree in Comparative Laws from the University of Australia. The CEO’s educational background has facilitated her growth as a leader and enabled her to advance Kenya's primary energy provider towards becoming both an energy champion and a gender equity champion.
KenGen acknowledges that the energy sector is predominantly male, sometimes intimidating to women entering the workforce just as well as to those taking on leadership positions where they will be required to supervise a largely male team. KenGen has therefore actively encouraged more women to apply for positions and immerse themselves in as many roles as possible. KenGen’s board has raised the stakes further by challenging management to propose deliverable plans for cultivating talent and empowering women. These plans consist of clear goals and timelines for gender mainstreaming.
- MD Rebecca Miano Takes Action for Gender Parity
According to CEO Rebecca Miano, the main factor preventing women from actively pursuing leadership positions is often a lack of confidence and a dearth of mentors to guide their career development. To that end and following the results of a comprehensive review performed by McKinsey & Company, KenGen launched the Pink Energy Initiative in 2016.
- Pink Energy Initiative
Over 500 female employees are currently enrolled in the Pink Energy Initiative which seeks to create opportunities and to maximize its participants' talents in three ways.
1. Personal development and empowerment
The program provides mentors for career development, health and wellness, and financial empowerment to help female employees compete fairly with men for opportunities that arise within the company.
2. A conducive work environment for female employees
After KenGen's HR department performed a fact-finding mission to discover pertinent issues to be resolved, the company has prioritized the improvement of sanitation facilities and the acquisition of women-friendly protective wear.
3. Gender awareness amongst all staff
Gender parity can only be fully achieved when people in leadership positions who are male are able to encourage their female counterparts to grow as well as champion that growth.
Numbers Don’t Lie
Under MD Miano’s leadership, KenGen has become far more gender-inclusive, with more women in leadership positions today than ever before. In 2020, women constitute 23% of the workforce versus 2.2% in 1990. MD Miano has stated that she will remain focused on further raising the number by 2023. MD Miano’s impact has been recognized beyond her commitment at KenGen, with the World Bank appointing her to the Advisory Council on Gender and Development, where she is serving a two-year term.
KenGen and MD Miano Lead by Taking Action
Through her confident and consistent management style, MD Miano has shown a generation of women what can be achieved. She has led KenGen successfully throughout her tenure so far and is poised to continue to do so. At the same time, she has created space for women to show up, engage, and maximize their career potential in what is still a male-dominated field. In this way, MD Miano is not only a pioneer for Kenya but a global leader and a champion of the corporate inclusion of women everywhere.
KenGen through MD & CEO Rebecca Miano has demonstrated what is possible when accomplished people come together with a mandate for action and clearly defined targets. Speaking of the road forward for KenGen, MD Miano stated: “We will focus on service delivery, diversification, and sustainable development to continue providing Kenyans with safe, reliable, and competitively-priced energy as we create value for all our stakeholders.”