Call for women to sit on boards

  • Executive director of the Women’s Resource Centre: Elaine Butterfield (file photograph).

    Executive director of the Women’s Resource Centre: Elaine Butterfield (file photograph).

Bermuda needs more women on government boards, the executive director of the Women’s Resource Centre said yesterday.

Elaine Butterfield said: “It would allow for a more balanced perspective in decision-making in all aspects of community life.

Ms Butterfield added: “Political, economic and community decision-making should represent everyone.” Ms Butterfield highlighted figures from last year that showed that of the 104 boards in Bermuda only 41 — or 39 per cent — of the 104 government boards were headed by women, and women served as deputy chair on 16 boards.

She said that women accounted for 396 of 921 — or 43 per cent — of people who served on boards.

Ms Butterfield added that 38 boards — or 37 per cent — had more than 50 per cent female representation, mostly in the areas of health and education.

She said that seven boards had no women members at all.

Ms Butterfield said that the figures, although not 100 per cent accurate, showed a “prevailing gender disparity” especially in board leadership and the situation needed improvement.

She was speaking after Wayne Furbert, the Minister for the Cabinet Office, appealed last month for people prepared to step forward to serve on Government boards and committees. He said that it was a chance for interested people to serve the country.

Mr Furbert added: “Government boards and committees play an important role in the community by ensuring good governance and by providing independent and expert governance or advice.”

Ms Butterfield said that the WRC had suggested to Mr Furbert that the disparity could be “easily remedied”.

She added: “We encouraged the minister to advance, with his colleagues, to annually prescribe and encourage gender parity to board appointments, particularly relating to board leadership and that, during selection, the Government and population as a whole, would be reminded of the importance of this representation and that this could easily be advanced, as a Government policy.”

She added that it would be “admirable” if the Government would “consider applying parameters for gender parity on private company boards”.

Ms Butterfield said: “It would be easy to track and as companies must currently declare the percentage of Bermudians, ownership and directors, the percentage of females on their boards could also be a required reporting.”

Ms Butterfield added the response from Mr Furbert was “favourable”.

She said: “Let us collectively contribute towards our outcome as women, so that we have a voice in the decision-making process of our community that is more reflective of all of our interests.”

Mr Furbert said today that the Government “continues to find ways to encourage greater gender parity on its boards and committees”.

He added: “I would encourage anyone in our community who is interested in joining a Government board or committee to submit an application, details of which can be found on the Government website.

“As a Government, we will continue to push for individuals from a wide cross section of our country, of differing abilities, to constitute our boards and committees, to ensure broad representation of our diverse community.

“This is one reason why we have, in recent years, taken the step of issuing an open call — by way of press release — for board and committee members, in order to cast our net that bit wider and reach a larger pool of potential applicants.”

UPDATE: This story has been updated to include a statement from Wayne Furbert, the Minister for the Cabinet Office.

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Published Dec 4, 2019 at 8:00 am (Updated Dec 4, 2019 at 4:52 pm)

Call for women to sit on boards

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