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Move to bring greater diversity to boards

Board Apprentice ambassadors: from left are Carolyn Myers, Ross Webber, Claudia Philipsz-Jones, Craig Redcliffe, Rochelle Simons, Jessel Mendes, Alison Morrison. A number of other members of the Bermuda Board Apprentice Chapter panel are missing from the photograph (Photograph supplied)

A drive to create greater gender and racial diversity on boards of directors in Bermuda is under way.

The programme was announced today on International Women’s Day, which is a celebration of the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.

Three companies and organisations have agreed to be the first to invite a “Board Apprentice” to join their boards.

EY Bermuda Ltd is sponsoring the establishment of a Board Apprentice Ltd chapter in Bermuda to accelerate greater diversity on boards of directors.

Board Apprentice Ltd was established in the UK in 2014 as a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to increasing diversity on boards, widening the pool of board-ready candidates, and helping boards increase diversity of ethnicity, gender, culture, age, disability and skill sets. In addition to Bermuda, there are chapters in seven countries and approximately 50 host boards globally.

Dan Scott, regional managing partner of EY’s Bahamas, Bermuda, BVI and Cayman market segment, said: “We are very proud to support the Board Apprentice programme, both in Bermuda and the Cayman Islands. This initiative is critical to helping build the next, diverse generation of leaders, and fits perfectly with our worldwide commitment to building a better working world.”

Under the programme, senior executives gain access to a yearlong programme that provides an ‘educational’ seat at the boardroom table to get boardroom experience.

The EY organisation is the 2018 International Women’s Day global campaign partner and said it is committed to promoting gender parity — within EY firms and in business at large — as an economic imperative. Its initiatives include the “Women. Fast forward” campaign, its Gender Parity Countdown, and a new report titled Navigating disruption without gender diversity? Think again, which examines the link between business disruption and gender diversity.

The EY member firm in the Cayman Islands is also the sponsor of the Board Apprentice chapter there.

Craig Redcliffe, Partner, EY Bermuda Ltd, said: “As our global sponsorship of International Women’s Day demonstrates, we are committed to and passionate about accelerating gender parity globally.

“But we are equally passionate about making a difference here in Bermuda. This strategic relationship with Board Apprentice will help ‘future-proof’ boards in Bermuda so that they are better prepared for an increasingly complex world where diverse skills will be needed, and allow the breadth and depth of the country’s perspectives to be represented.”

Mr Redcliffe leads the Bermuda Board Apprentice Chapter in collaboration with Jessel Mendes, Partner, EY Bermuda Ltd and BBC Regional Growth Markets Leader and Carolyn Myers, EY BBC Regional Business Development Leader.

EY Bermuda has also welcomed Expertise Limited as a sponsoring partner of the Bermuda Board Apprentice Chapter. Claudia Philipsz-Jones, Partner at Expertise, has volunteered her personal time and resources to support the new chapter and help identify apprentice candidates.

Ascendant Group, BF&M and the Bermuda Business Development Agency have agreed to be the first host boards to invite a Board Apprentice to join their boards.

Mr Redcliffe said: “This is a significant, forward-thinking and progressive commitment from these three organisations and we congratulate them for their leadership.”

To get the Bermuda Board Apprentice Chapter up and running, a panel of “ambassadors” has been convened to act in an advisory capacity. The panel is comprised of a number of directors and leaders in Bermuda. The panel includes Anthony Joaquin, Peter Durhager, Fiona Luck, Michael Butt, Rochelle Simons, Gil Tucker, Caroline Foulger, Vicki Coelho, Pauline Richards, Kiernan Bell, Ross Webber, Alison Morrison, Neil Glass, Chris Harris, Leila Madeiros and Annarita Marion.

Mr Durhager said: “This is an extremely important and progressive initiative, and the Ascendant Group is more than happy to participate in this worthwhile effort. There is no doubt that diversity strengthens performance. Our support for Board Apprentice underscores our commitment and we strongly encourage other organisations to step forward.”

Ms Simmons said: “Diversity continues to be top of boards’ agendas. The Institute of Directors is committed to board effectiveness and growth, so supporting Board Apprentice was a natural fit for us. I would like to congratulate EY for sponsoring this important programme and I am proud to contribute to this important initiative.”

In addition to the Board Apprentice sponsorship, EY Bermuda is supporting the “Walk for Change” today for the Women’s Resource Centre.

To find out more about EY’s “Women. Fast forward” programme, visit www.ey.com/womenfastforward. For information on the Board Apprentice programme, visit https://www.boardapprentice.com.