Connie Smith FCG

Company Secretary at Tricor Global in Barbados

Women are taking the lead in the world’s newest republic

Connie Smith is an award-winning CGIUKI Fellow and highly respected governance pioneer with a 37-year career as a chartered governance professional in the corporate services environment, working with companies such as EY and Tricor Group. She is based in Barbados.

Connie is rightly proud of the strong female leadership within her company. Tricor Group, headquartered in Hong Kong, is the leading business expansion specialist in Asia with 49 offices around the world, including Barbados. At Group Head Office level, 50% of the senior executives are female, including the Group Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer, Group Legal Counsel, Group Chief People Officer and Group Head of Marketing & Communications.

Connie is passionate about breaking the bias in the workplace by encouraging women leaders to become environmental, social and governance (ESG) champions. She first started to think about the importance of ESG and tackling climate change when she became a mother.

She says, ‘I know that – because I was so focused on my career and carving out my space in what was a very male-dominated environment – I would not have taken such a lead role on ESG if I didn’t have children. My children have given me purpose in that way, which is why I consciously choose to associate myself and my brand with sustainability and women’s empowerment.’

Connie points out that her role as a female leader in corporate governance and her pioneering leadership on ESG matters in Barbados is strengthened and supported by the country’s strong female leadership.

'I am very proud of Barbados’ first and current Prime Minister, Mia Amor Mottley. Barbados became the world’s newest Republic in November 2021 with a female being our first President. Barbados’ Deputy Prime Minister is also a woman. We have excellent and inspiring female leaders as role models all around us.'
‘We had elections last month. As it was three and a half years ago, the Mottley-led government’s election campaign was very focused on governance and Barbados’ sustainability.’

On the question of whether Barbados is striving to become energy self-sufficient, she says, ‘The Ministry of Energy and Water Resources of Barbados launched an ambitious and revolutionary National Energy Policy in 2019 proposing to transform the island from a fossil fuels dominated economy, to one completely based on renewable energy sources by 2030.

‘Barbados has long established itself as a leader in the Caribbean and the western hemisphere in the renewable energy technology space, with the success it has enjoyed with the solar water heating industry. There are already a number of solar farms developed on the island with more development underway. Even the building that Tricor has its office in on Barbados boasts solar panels occupying the roofs of the office building and carport, the energy from which powers a floor of the building. We’re definitely on a path towards sustainability.'
‘Barbados is also a leader in the region with hundreds of electric vehicles on the road, including a significant portion of the Government fleet of public buses. The island also has a good network of accessible charging ports, including privately owned ones with the vehicles purchased. This is a great solution for transport because Barbados is quite small and so frequent charging to accommodate long distances is not an issue.’

On the subject of whether wind power is being developed in Barbados, she says, ‘There haven’t been many discussions about wind energy in Barbados and although this has not yet taken off in any significant way, there are plans to continue this development to buttress our solar installations. These are all investment opportunities ripe for the picking with the right investor.’

When asked how she plans to embed ESG in corporate governance, she says, ‘I serve as a trustee of an initiative called the Waste Zero Resources Trust.

‘The trust works with stakeholders across the island, including the Government – and mostly through educational efforts – to reduce waste and divert as much as we can from landfill and work towards creating a sustainable model for our future.'
‘ESG is also a big focus for my employer, Tricor, and I’m committed to being a member of the Business Advisory Group working with the United Nations (UN) team here in the region to refocus the private sector’s attention on the sustainable development goals and our realisation of those.'
‘It’s a serious issue and it’s a big deal for me personally. As a female professional executive, my focus on everything outside of my core work is usually in the area of women’s empowerment and sustainability.’

It seems that the rest of the world could learn from Barbados’ example of being not only a role model for female leadership but also of ESG in action. Smiling with pleasure, Connie says, ‘Many may remember Prime Minister Mottley’s impassioned presentations at the UN Climate Change Summit in Glasgow, Scotland in November 2021, COP26. Her strong advocacy for the interests of small island developing states earned Barbados the respect of climate protection activists. Prime Minister Mottley was also chosen by the UN Environment Programme as one of its 2021 Champions of the Earth – the world body's highest environmental honour. That was another proud Barbados moment.’

Connie Smith FCG

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