The company has set itself rigorous targets for diversity and inclusion by 2020. Are you pleased with progress to date?
Results have been mixed. In some respects, we have made decent progress. We are working hard to achieve our pledge to increase the number of differently-abled employees to five per cent of our workforce in 2021. We have also maintained our gender parity as an employer and 50 per cent of our permanent staff are female.
That said, I remain disappointed with our lack of progress in terms of achieving gender parity in senior management and executive leadership. We have committed to achieving equal gender representation in senior management by 2021, but only 34 per cent of our senior managers and 27 per cent of our executive leaders are female.
I recognise that this is a multifaceted challenge, of course, and more than simply a recruitment problem. The many roles that women are often required to play in their families and in society inevitably impact upon their careers.
We have been working hard to address this complex challenge through initiatives like our Women in Leadership and Women in Technology programmes, but the fact remains that we need to intensify our efforts if we are to achieve the 2021 target.
Our Women in Business initiative has started to show results and women-owned companies participated in a third of the contracts we put out to tender this year, up from just 16 per cent in 2017. We still have much to do to achieve our target of ensuring that women-owned companies account for at least ten per cent of our total procurement spend by 2020, but I am satisfied that we continue to shift the needle in the right direction in that regard.
You have suggested that individual ethics need to drive the fight against corruption in the long term. Could you explain what you mean by this?
We need to start moving the conversation from straightforward corruption and broaden it to consider ethical behaviour in general. Obviously, corrupt acts should continue to be pursued, exposed and punished as a top priority, but I believe that the long-term solution is to start thinking about what it means to conduct ourselves as individuals in an ethical manner, and what the personal benefits of doing so might be.
This approach makes sense because corruption begins with a single individual and his or her personal choices. So, let us start addressing this fact by becoming more conscious of the impact our choices and actions have on ourselves, each other and society in general, not just on Safaricom.
This perspective also moves the conversation on to a more sophisticated and potentially useful level. It begins to inform how we address issues like customer privacy and concerns regarding customer data collection and use, for example, which are sensitive areas that companies like ours are going to have to navigate carefully in the near future.
Accordingly, my hope is that awareness of the impact and importance of individual ethical behaviour will become central to the way the company thinks about corruption and ethics over the next few years.