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De-facto Affrimative Action is the cost of doing business in Bermuda

May 10, 2013

Dear Sir,

Most logical thinking people would agree that offshore businesses in Bermuda are competing on a global scale. In a pure capitalist society, businesses will hire the best, brightest, hardest working employees in the world. Given Bermuda’s small size and small talent pool, there are very few Bermudians who could be considered the best in the world in their respective professions. Bermuda is not a pure capitalist society. While the shareholders and owners of these offshore businesses would love for their companies to hire only the best and brightest in the world to maximise profits, these offshore companies do not. These offshore companies feel a social and moral obligation to hire Bermudians who are qualified on paper but may not be world class.

No offshore company wants to be seen as not hiring Bermudians. No offshore company wants to be seen as being insensitive to the social needs of Bermuda as witnessed by the millions of dollars offshore business donates to local charities each year. Quite often, after hiring a Bermudian who on paper has the qualifications, the company finds out that the work ethic, productivity, soft skills, and client relationships are not up to standard.

This situation forces companies to hire an expatriate to do the job and cover for the Bermudian employee’s deficiency. By hiring Bermudians who are not world class, these companies are acting in defacto Affirmative Action. In other words, Affirmative Action is already taking place in Bermuda by practice while not legislated. This de-facto Affirmative Action is a cost of doing business in Bermuda.

Eva Hodgson and Rolfe Commissiong have publicly proposed Affirmative Action to be legislated as a cure to the economic imbalance between blacks and whites. Legislated Affirmative Action will further add to the cost of doing business in Bermuda: more Bermudians in jobs that require more expatriates to be employed to cover the inefficiencies. It will be another dagger into Bermuda’s competitiveness on the world stage. When Bermuda becomes too expensive to operate from and is no longer a premier offshore financial centre, there will be no economic pie to split up. However, economic parity and balance will be attained. We all will be poor and fishing off the rocks for supper.

For economic equity to have any meaning, Bermuda must remain competitive for offshore business. The culture that permeates so many Bermudians is to arrive at work at 9am and leave at 5pm. The culture where one looks at sick days as extra vacation days needs to change. This work ethic and attitude adds to the cost of doing business in Bermuda and makes it so difficult for employers to promote these employees. If economic parity and equity is desired, the best way is through providing the best public education system Bermuda can which will give Bermudians the best chance of getting qualified. In addition, a culture of hard work, productivity, good soft skills, good working relationships, and good etiquette needs to be the norm. Culture takes a long time to change but a changed culture is what is needed to give Bermuda a fighting chance of remaining economically afloat and for meaningful economic equity to be attained.



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Published May 29, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated May 28, 2013 at 6:59 pm)

De-facto Affrimative Action is the cost of doing business in Bermuda

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