Gender diversity in the boards of directors of companies is an important topic across the globe. Research indicates that women are still underrepresented. It appears that the Caribbean is no different. Based on informal research and a sample of eight Caribbean companies, the majority of boards consist of men.
The catalyst for my research was a snippet of data collected on the ethnicity of directors of several large Trinidadian entities. I had raised several issues and questions with the person that shared the information with me concerning the motives and methodology behind said data and results.
Nonetheless, that particular piece of data got me thinking about other demographic variables besides ethnicity. In particular, gender, age and citizenship for boards of directors of several Caribbean companies. Due to the limited availability of public data, my research questions were narrowed to the following two:
- How many male and female directors sit on the boards of directors?
- What are the number of persons, by age group, who sit on boards of directors?
Questions in hand, I established some criteria. Company criteria: 1) The company must operate in at least one other Caribbean country besides their home country – which itself is based/incorporated in the Caribbean and 2) the company must be publicly traded.
For the first criteria, I chose several Caribbean entities: Massy Holdings (Trinidad), Goddard Enterprises (Barbados), Ansa McAL (Trinidad), GraceKennedy (Jamaica), Agostini (Trinidad), Sagicor (Barbados), One Caribbean Media (Trinidad) and Republic Financial Holdings (Trinidad). I chose these entities because they were large (in terms of head count and revenue), were well known, and operated in at least two or more Caribbean countries.
The reasoning behind the second criteria, i.e., public companies, was that it would be easier for me to obtain their annual reports and get the names of the persons on the boards of directors. I chose the 2016 annual reports as more recent reports were not available for some entities, however, 2016 data was available across all selected companies.
Age Group Results
This was fairly straight forward, I pulled annual reports from company websites. In some instances where no age data was available, I either emailed or contacted the company via telephone. Also, the research is limited to regional public companies, as such, it is not comprehensive.
Based on the sample size and data collected, it is clear that women are underrepresented and in the minority when it comes to sitting on the boards of directors of Caribbean companies. The results appear to be similar to research findings in other parts of the world. In terms of age group, it’s clear that the majority of persons who sit on a boards of directors are between 61 and 70 years old (n=23), followed by 51 to 60 (n=16). However, it is also worth noting that out of a total of 88 directors, I was only able to classify the ages of 50. Thus the 38 that are unclassified may significantly change the age distribution data.
The above data suggests that there is room for improvement in terms of gender diversity in the board room. There are also several opportunities for others to build on my research. For example, I looked at several well known Caribbean entities. Another researcher may look at all of the publicly traded companies across the regional stock exchanges. Does a board with a sufficient number of women perform better? Some of the annual reports listed persons with citizenship from other countries. Does this make a difference on firm performance or value generation? Yet another question, do the ages of directors vary by industry? For example, would we find more directors in an older age group in one industry (say banking) versus another industry? And finally, do research findings in the Caribbean resemble those found in other parts of the World? The potential follow on topics and questions are ripe for people who are focused on Caribbean research to grab and run with.