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Governor says being first woman in the job presented ‘challenges’

Rena Lalgie, the Governor, reflects on her time in Bermuda in a speech at Hamilton Rotary Club (Photograph by Jonathan Bell)

The island’s first Black and woman Governor revealed yesterday that she had some bad experiences as a female in the role.

Rena Lalgie said she had been given a warm welcome to the island — but that not all her experiences had been good ones.

She told the Hamilton Rotary Club she had stepped into the job of Governor and Commander-in-Chief that had been held by White men since 1612.

Ms Lalgie admitted: “What I didn’t count on was probably the extent to which being female might be a challenge in that office.”

She said Black women in power appeared to be “quite common” on the island and that she had not expected her appointment to be “particularly noteworthy from a Bermuda perspective”.

Ms Lalgie added that her day-to-day life was familiar to earlier governors she had spoken to and that she was “not the first to become embroiled in controversy” or who had “divided opinion”.

But she added: “I have no doubt there are some aspects of my experience that they really would not recognise — and would not believe if I told them.

“I will certainly not stand here before you today and give them oxygen by speaking of them in any detail.”

Ms Lalgie, who has been on the island for 14 months, highlighted that Bermuda has had three women premiers.

She said: “That’s quite impressive. That’s one more woman than has ever been Prime Minister of the UK.”

She said Rotarians had asked her to highlight her “reflections and experiences as the first woman and the first Black person to hold this office”.

Ms Lalgie, the former director of Britain’s Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation at the Treasury, succeeded John Rankin in December 2020.

She said she wanted to set an example for children and young people and show that they did not have to be stopped by perceived barriers.

Ms Lalgie added she would “hate” the idea of children growing up believing there were “some spaces they should not or cannot occupy”.

She said she had found Bermuda “an amazing place to live and work” — and there were opportunities that the pandemic had created for the island to build upon.

She added that it was vital for the island to “grow, retain and attract the best talent”.

Ms Lalgie said Bermuda had been a success despite its small size, which had fuelled myths that it must be a tax haven to attract so much business.

She added that it was a safe place to work with a good reputation for compliance with international obligations and standards.

Ms Lalgie said the island’s size had also helped it to pivot quickly with the changes forced by the pandemic.

Ms Lalgie added that the island showed great potential in emerging business opportunities in environmental protection.

She was asked for her views on the proposed global minimum tax during a question-and-answer session after her talk.

Ms Lalgie said: “The answer is it would be famous last words if I said it would definitely happen.”

But she added that there was an international “drive” to make it happen and insisted that it represented an opportunity for the island.

Ms Lalgie said: “Tax policy for Bermuda will be a question for the elected government, as it will be for any others.

“There will be opportunities — but that’s really one for the Government to determine.”

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Published February 23, 2022 at 11:34 am (Updated February 23, 2022 at 11:34 am)

Governor says being first woman in the job presented ‘challenges’

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