Investing in women key for CB's business leaders

Investing in women key for CB's business leaders

Jo Huckle was a new mother, having just brought twin boys into the world.

Of the many thoughts and uncertainties a new mother wrestles with, she questioned what the future of her career as an attorney would look like with her firm, Ogier.

"The firm supported my desire to continue on partnership track whilst I was on maternity leave," Huckle said. "I was made up to partner two weeks after I returned from my maternity leave."

It was a similar story for Deloitte's Lise Corbin, who became partner while on maternity leave.

"Many people would assume that, as a woman, going on maternity leave would put me at risk of not being able to demonstrate my capabilities," Corbin said. "The ‘out of sight, out of mind’ mentality that leadership will only look at what you are doing at that time rather than looking at what you have done and what you are capable of. But because of the investment the firm made in me through the years, my ability to demonstrate my abilities and our firm’s view of the importance of diversity across all levels in our company, I was championed and sponsored during an important stage of my family’s life."

Woman poses for camera
Photo of Jo Huckle

This is what investing in women looks like in the real world, they say, practices and policies that allow women equality in their career paths.

International Women's Day is celebrated on 8 March this year. Formally recognised by the United Nations since 1977, IWD is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women's equality.

"International Women’s Day is exactly that — a day where we can all celebrate the accomplishments of women," said Corbin. "It is also a day to focus on how much more we need to do when it comes to gender equality."

This year's IWD themes focus on investing in women and creating sustainable working environments through policies that support women.

At Ogier, in particular, Huckle points to an enhanced maternity leave policy as well as policies on fertility, adoption, surrogacy and menopause as steps in the right direction. There is a maternity leave buddy programme and a gender equality employee network, and the firm publishes voluntarily its gender pay gap.

"One of the aspects in which we invest in women — and that we receive a lot of positive feedback on — is our nine weeks paid paternity leave," Huckle said. "The aim of that is to afford men the opportunity to be more involved in family responsibilities from the outset. We hope it gives men a greater insight into the challenges of caring for little ones so that the burden, if and when their other half returns to work, can hopefully be better shared than might otherwise be the case." 

A firm's governance and make-up can also say a lot about its dedication to inclusion and diversity. Ogier boasts a dedicated global diversity, equity and inclusion manager. At Deloitte, Caymanian Cindy Hislop was appointed Office Managing Partner and upcoming Board Chair to the company's Caribbean and Bermuda member firms.

Huckle points to the firm's employee make-up to show the policies are working.

"My current team has an equal number of male and female partners," she said. "At the associate level — from senior down to junior — the significant majority of the team are female. So that's the result."

Woman poses for camera
Photo of Lise Corbin
Woman poses for camera
Photo of Anya Edun

Investing in women is not just a women's issue, Dart Vice President of People and Culture Anya Edun said. For her, it was an interview with a male recruiter when she was in college that ignited her passion and career.

"It was a mock interview. You had people from the community come in — business professionals come in — and they were just doing these interviews to prepare you. He and I connected from then and from that point forward, he just ... throughout my career, would check in on how [I was] doing, like a mentor."

For Edun, that investment came by way of encouragement and advice, like how to negotiate in business. She's grateful for the lessons she was taught, no matter who they came from.

"Everybody has to play a part in it and it's not a women's issue at all," she said. "Actually, it's a human issue. And [when] women are at the table in any scenario, it's a diversity of thought, of problem solving, in performance.
"There's that diversity that adds just to greater outcomes, more innovative and creative solutions to things. And I believe in that."

Looking forward, all three women say they're dedicated to and enjoy investing in the next generation of women. They can't, however, do it without buy-in from others, including employers.

"Make the top leadership position as the lead champion for these efforts," Corbin said. "Embed the development of women within the business strategy. Hold leadership accountable for driving outcomes centred around the development of women.

"There’s a common misconception that women don’t support each other — but it’s not true. Women can be powerful allies for other women. We need to be advocates for each other and set positive examples to show what we can do."

This article was originally featured in the March 2024 print edition of Camana Bay Times.

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