She joined Equity Bank in 2004, then a building society in 2004 as the Head of Legal Services before her promotion to Company Secretary and Head of Legal Services in 2005.
Eighteen years later, Mary Wamae has risen over the ranks to sit at the banks board. A couple of days ago she was crowned the overall winner of the 2021 Women on Board Awards at the Inaugural award ceremony held in Nairobi, Kenya by the Women on Board Network (WOBN).
The awards aim at recognizing exceptional individuals and organisations who exemplify outstanding leadership through promoting and impacting gender diversification and inclusion.
Mary was recognised for her efforts in demonstrating purpose, authenticity, resilience, innovation, and sustainable contribution in economic and social-impact initiatives that create and champion gender inclusion and women empowerment within Equity Group.
Serving a Cause
Speaking while accepting the award, Mary encouraged women corporate leaders to promote mentorship, impactful leadership, and authenticity in their places of work. “I have dedicated my life to serving a cause. I personally believe that I only get stronger if I uplift somebody else. You should create a legacy as you go up the career ladder. As leaders in this room and elsewhere, we need to be authentic; we need to be ourselves and should do things to the best of our ability. There are a lot of challenges and obstacles women face in their career journey, but regardless of these challenges, we need to remain focused on our goals,” she added.
Mary is involved in mentorship programmes for young ladies, career mentorship for professionals, sponsorships for bright but needy students and environmental conservation, among other interests.
In March 2020, she pioneered the launch of a staff empowerment program, Equity Inspire Programme (EQUIP) that aims to empower and mentor staff at Equity Group to advance in their careers, practice work-life balance and generally expose them to industry leaders and content that will help them network and grow in their careers.
I personally believe that I only get stronger if I uplift somebody else. You should create a legacy as you go up the career ladder.Mary Wamae
While congratulating Mary on the recognition, the Chief Guest, Principal Secretary of State Department for Correctional Services, Ministry of Interior and Coordination, Zeinab A. Hussein urged and challenged the private sector to stay true to diversity. “The government currently has over 30% of women in its boards. This is a positive indicator that we are headed in the right way in the public sector. I urge the Private sector to emulate and embrace what is currently happening in the government by appointing more women to their boards to equal or surpass government efforts,” said PS Zeinab.
“The Journey towards gender diversity and inclusion will only be successful if women work with their male counterparts to unlock more opportunities for themselves. We need men to be part of this journey and walk with us to realize it. Even as we continue to nurture the next generation of women on boards, we must make sure that such women bring their full value and make serious impact and influence,” added the PS.
In 2012, gender representation in publicly listed companies was 12%, 18% in 2015, 21% in 2017 and now 36% in 2021 as per the data from the Kenya Institute Management Board Diversity and Inclusion Report 2021 that tracks Board diversity and inclusion progress over the last 9 years.
Before her current role, Mary served as the Group Company Secretary and Director of Corporate Strategy of Equity Group Holdings Plc. She has more than 28 years of experience in legal practice, strategy and banking and has led many impactful business transactions since beginning her service at the then Equity Building Society in 2004.
Equity Group Foundation was also recognized as the organization of the year scooping the 2nd runners up position during the event. The Foundation was recognized for its efforts in supporting the vulnerable people by transforming their lives and livelihoods socially and economically by availing modern, inclusive financial services that maximize their opportunities.
The Women On Board Network Awards are mainly geared to celebrating the milestones achieved in attaining equity, equality as well as parity in the social economic status of women and youth.