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Women execs facing hurdles

by Geralyn Edward, Business Editor

Women execs facing hurdles

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EVEN THOUGH a number of women  are taking up top management positions in some of Barbados’ leading companies, one of them says females still face a number of challenges in the workplace.
Joan Elizabeth “Betty” Brathwaite, the recently announced managing partner of Deloitte, said many highly qualified female executives were still forced to put their careers on hold to concentrate on their families or put their families on hold while they pursued their professional dreams.
Brathwaite became the first female managing partner of Deloitte and only the second woman in Barbados to lead one of the big four accounting firms. Her fellow accountant Carol Nicholls is the managing partner of KPMG in Barbados.
 Her appointment also came on the heels of the announcement last week that Donna Wellington, a young career banker, had become the first female managing director of CIBC FirstCaribbean for Barbados.  
The new Deloitte boss said even though women were outnumbering men in many professions, when it came to promotions at the very top of the executive hierarchy, men still featured disproportionately more.
Men on top
“What we see in the profession is that the majority of the new hires are females. We have been lucky to get a good crop of males coming in but the majority of the new hires are women . . . but as you begin to rise in the organization – the men end up at the top,” she revealed.
“We celebrate International Women’s Day big in Deloitte because we have this women’s initiative and I never understood it because to me it is our men that are failing and therefore it was our men that needed help.
“But then when I looked at the statistics and saw just how few women within the profession . . . actually
rise to the top, I realized there was something wrong and therefore felt women needed help to get to the top,” she told BARBADOS BUSINESS AUTHORITY.
The 51-year-old accountant also expressed concern that bright, competent women executives were still being viewed as less suitable for top management positions by some companies as soon as they got married and made a decision to start a family.
“There is always that fear that you will have a bright shining star coming up and then she makes the mistake of getting married. Then all of a sudden you are looking at career planning – who next you are going to promote – and you look at her and say she is probably going to go and get pregnant and get a family within the next year and [questions are raised as to whether] that is really what you want,” Brathwaite commented.