Energy company BG T&T Ltd has emerged tops among a list of five companies that provide the ideal business conditions for the ascension of women. The company was bestowed with the award at the Association of Professional Executives of T&T's (AFETT) Top Five Business Leaders Survey 2011, held at the Hyatt Regency Trinidad hotel, Port-of-Spain, on Tuesday. The Myerson Company Ltd, which manufactures artificial teeth and other denture products at Trinity Avenue, Laventille, secured second place, while Regency Recruitment was nestled in third spot. Fourth and fifth places were awarded to the Unit Trust Corporation and Columbus Communications Trinidad Ltd, respectively, before a gathering that included Labour Minister Errol Mc Leod and Richard Young, managing director, Scotiabank T&T Ltd.
Lisa Shandilya, president of AFETT, said this initiative was AFETT's voice to educate this country's corporate culture to recognise the importance of work-life balance, to attract the best employees, which translated into better outcomes. "A recent survey released by the Central Bank stated that women earn less than men even in the same jobs, but it also stated that 65 per cent of the students enrolled at the University of the West Indies were female," Shandilya said. She lauded Kamla Persad-Bissessar's rise to the Office of Prime Minister, the first woman in the country to do so. Shandilya saluted the champions of gender diversity and inclusion of women in leadership roles in the workplace. "We take a holistic approach to empowering our women by providing a mentorship programme, professional skill development workshops and networking opportunities.
"We also intend to present a comprehensive survey on childcare solutions for working women in T&T. In March 2012, AFETT will be hosting our first three-day conference for women in celebration of our tenth year as an association." Krista de Lima, chief of staff, at BGTT, in delivering her company's acceptance speech, said what cultivated the winning environment of which staff could boast was the managerial mandate to listen to employees. That management style led to the establishment of a shuttle bus service and a homework centre, she said. Lara Quentrall-Thomas, chief executive officer, Regency Recruitment, admitted that she was unsure whether her company would have lasted this long, much less win awards. "AFETT's celebration of the workplace that empowers women is important. Not only because so many work places still don't recognise the contribution of their female employees, but because women still earn less than men for the same work in many firms and have to choose between breeding and succeeding, as they are regularly passed over for projects deemed too difficult to combine with parenthood," she said.
Eutrice Carrington, executive director, UTC, lauded the initiatives being undertaken by AFETT, particularly the continued forum for the exchange of ideas and resources, while providing mentoring opportunities for women entering or re-entering the work force. "Consistent with your focus on the female executive, it is interesting to note that the board of the UTC, which comprises ten members, is chaired by Amoy Chang Fong and has four other female directors. I have the honour to lead a 13-member management team, eight of whom are women." Sexual harassment in the workplace remained a high priority in the work place, said Dr Madgerie Jameson from the University of the West Indies.
Delivering her findings on the AFETT survey, Jameson noted that across the gender divide, employees were being treated equally, but that companies still needed to improve facilities for the needs of women.
"With regards to the company policies that help women advance, sexual harassment continues to be high on the agenda. In 2005, 72 per cent of the survey had a formal policy for this issue. "In 2011, 74 per cent of respondents have a formal policy, and when combined with those that have an informal policy, this accounts for 82 per cent of the respondents," Jameson said.
While there were no significant changes in 2011 from the overall number of women in the supervisory to board level reported in 2005, Jameson said the findings suggested there was relative stability over time in the number of female decision-makers in the companies surveyed. Companies, it seemed, were investing more in the development of women in leadership roles. A survey conducted six years ago showed 16 per cent of respondents had mentoring programmes for women as a priority. Publishing of the 2011 results show 31 per cent of respondents had an informal or formal advisory programme.
Jameson said: "Notably, work-like balance policies within the workplace are also trending upwards in 2011. While in 2005 only 25.6 per cent of respondents had a telecommuting programme, in 2011, 46.7 per cent of respondents did."Similarly, with regard to sick-child leave, findings were that 19 per cent of respondents had this practice, up from just eight per cent in the prior study. With regard to the enhancement of family-friendly policies, paternity leave has received well-deserved attention with 53 per cent of respondents having this practice, up from 25.6 per cent in 2005."
2. The Myerson Company
3. Regency Recruitment
4. Unit Trust Corporation
5. Columbus Communications
Large: Unit Trust Corporation
Small: Regency Recruitment