Inequality In Trinidad And Tobago Prison Service
In light of world agendas for gender equality, significant strides have been made the world over in shattering perceptions of inequality, yet many industries remain viewed as male-dominated.
With emphasis on the Trinidad and Tobago Prison Service (hereafter referred to as the TTPS or the Prison Service) this research is set against one such industry that is yet to dispel this notion of male domination.
Rationale/Justification for the Study
As the gender debate took centre stage in developed nations, it would soon find its way to local shores. Perhaps one of the most sterling testaments to this was Trinidad & Tobago’s adoption of the Millennium Development Goals in 2000  , where one of the eight articulated aims speak to the need to ‘promote gender equality and empower women’  (UNDP, 2010). This emphasis was further underscored when in 2002, Gender and Development and the need to establish and promote gender equality, became a critical success factor underlying one of the five developmental pillars (captured in Figure 1.1) for the country’s attainment of first world developed status by 2020. The impetus seemed to derive from evidence which suggests that gender disparities lead to weaker economic growth (Stotsky, 2006). In fact Nathan et al (2009) found gender inequalities [in particular] to be a major obstacle for developing countries in meeting developmental targets.
Five Developmental Priorities for T&T Development of First World Status
Source: Adapted from Lok Jack et al (2004)
A study along these lines therefore can serve a small but significant contributor in enhancing government’s focus on an area deemed fundamental to the country’s achievement of developed nation status.
1.2.2 Organizational Significance
Part of government’s framework to ensure progress along the gender equality discourse was to facilitate the transformation of all government agencies towards gender mainstreaming. Thus when Cabinet approved the Recommendations of the Baptiste Task Force Report on Prison Reform and Transformation in 2003  , part of this included a requirement for the establishment of a secretariat tasked to oversee the implementation of policies and procedures, aimed at ensuring gender equality in all aspects of organizational life.
Despite this however, the issue of gender inequalities continue to be bandied across the Prison Service with results of a 2009 staff survey  reporting female officers lamentation over the lack of promotional opportunities open to them, citing (inter alia) the fact that despite 154 years of female-officer presence in local prison institutions, to date, no female Officer has ascended beyond the middle management ranks. To a lesser extent these survey findings also denounce the disproportionate ratio of males to females in the organization (14:1 or female representation of 6% of the total staff population). When measured against international standards in Corrections where women represent some 32% of the staff population (American Correctional Association 2000 figures as reported in Schmalleger and Smykla, 2007) it is possible to discern why the issue has occasioned such dissent.
As a practitioner-researcher, the author was prompted to consider this as a viable line of research, owing to the fact that allegations of gender discrimination remain just that – claims - with no empirical testing to prove or disprove this hypothesis.
It is envisaged that in undertaking this research study, the management will at a minimum be afforded a plausible platform upon which subsequent efforts at gender equality can be engineered, irrespective of whether findings should refute current allegations or not. Additionally, it forms the basis upon which policy-decisions can be taken with respect to furtherance of the gender equality initiative, and notably the formulation of a written equality policy within the organization.
Identification of these barriers will provide correctional administrators insight as to the types of initiatives that can counter the obstacles females encounter as well as recommend initiatives that can be implemented to increase the probability of promotional opportunities for females in the correctional field. Question the machinery and contribute to change.
On a personal perspective, it enables the opportunity for partial fulfillment of the requirements for the MBA as awarded by the Anglia Ruskin University. In so doing it furthers and hones the researcher’s ability to develop and undertake an independent body of research aimed at addressing a live organizational issue – a skill that would prove immensely beneficial in the work environment.
More intimately though, it provides the researcher as a female Officer within the organization aspiring towards executive officer status, to investigate firsthand the possibility of realistically ascending to those positions or to understand the terrain to be traversed in attempts at so doing.
It simultaneously serves to provoke and stimulate interest in a topic area that has long held interest and intrigue for the researcher that may eventually lend itself to subject matter expertise. This can translate into a verifiable basis upon which future opportunities in career development can be predicated.
1.3 Research Question
In keeping with the more pressing findings of the MORI Survey 2009, wherein allegations related to inequalities in promotions are concerned, the focus of this research has been shaped to take cognizance of the much touted notion of the glass ceiling, which, according to Benschop and Brouns (2005) is a metaphor which accounts for the noticeable absence of women in top positions. More specifically because authors like Morrison et al (1987) view the term as being one which suggests that there may be organizational barriers that prevent women’s elevation beyond a certain level, the research question selected to guide this research is coined to read:
Is there a glass ceiling as far as promotional opportunities for female Officers in the Trinidad & Tobago Prison Service are concerned?
And if there is
What can be done to eliminate gender inequalities for promotion?
1.4 Research Objectives
In order that the research question is answered, the following objectives are prescribed:
To critically analyze the rate of promotion for males and females within the Prison Service
To critically examine promotional policies and practices at the organization, with a view to determining whether or not the qualitative and quantitative characteristics for promotions, are the same for male and female officers
To critically explore current literature and best practices in promotions as it relates to gender equality initiatives on a general and industry basis and
To compare and contrast these with the organizations’ own policies and practices,
To make recommendations for the elimination of gender disparities in promotions based on findings that the research may reveal.
To provide a more coherent backdrop to the research the organizational setting is expounded below.
A state-owned agency and the sole provider of Corrections services  to the twin-island Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, the Prison Service is a semi-autonomous body falling under the ambit of the Ministry of National Security, with a history that dates back to the mid 1880’s.
Vision & Mission
According to Lynch (2009) an organization’s vision presents a challenging and imaginative picture of its’ future role and objectives. This view is supported by Johnson et al. (2005) who further advise that it reflects the strategic intent of the organization.
The Prison Service’s articulated vision is to become a more efficient and effective Prison Service committed to protecting society, adhering to the dictates of the court and reducing re-offending. (TTPS Strategic Plan 2006-2009).
The mission on the other hand is viewed to be a general expression of the overall purpose of the organization (ibid). The organization’s mission statement reads as follows:
The Trinidad and Tobago Prison Service as an arm of the Criminal Justice System is committed to the protection of society and crime prevention by facilitating the opportunities for habilitation/rehabilitation of offenders while maintaining control under safe secure and humane conditions.
An initial analysis of both of these would reveal that although staff may not have been explicitly mentioned, they lie at the heart of the noble agendas captured in these. In other words, staff represent the vehicle through which these can be given life, for neither of these prove static or mechanistic. It provides an initial justification therefore of why any staff concerns including this research’s emphasis become major considerations for the organization.
1.5.2 Organizational Structure
Even more instructive to the research emphasis (given concerns as to the positions beyond which women have not elevated thus far) is an illustration of the hierarchical breakdown of the organization.
With responsibility for its operations and administration devolved to the head or Commissioner of Prisons, the organization’s para-military nature dictates a distinct ranked and hierarchical structure which begins at the entrance point of Prisons Officer I with progression, through promotion, to the rank of Commissioner of Prisons.
From the entrance point to the organizational helm, there are seven intermediate ranks including Prison Officer II, Prisons Supervisor, Assistant Superintendent of Prisons, Superintendent of Prisons, Senior Superintendent of Prison, Assistant Commissioner of Prisons and Deputy Commissioner of Prisons. Figure 1.2 captures this logic, and has been specifically coded to show the varying levels at which the ranks are set (bearing in mind that women have only ascended to middle management positions) while Appendix 1 provides a detailed and functional structure of the organization.
Executive Officers Senior Mgmt Middle Mgmt Operational Ranks
Organizational Hierarchy of the T&T Prison Service
Source: Author (2009)
Amongst these ranks the staffing profile of the organization, currently stands at a total of 2395 Officers, broken down as reflected in the table below.
Commissioner of Prisons
Deputy Commissioner of Prisons
Assistant Commissioner of Prisons
Senior Superintendents of Prisons
Superintendent of Prisons
Assistant Superintendent of Prisons
Prisons Officer II
Prisons Officer I
Staff Statistics at the TTPS
Source: TTPS (2010)
Given the context within which the research question has been formulated, the scope of this study shall be primarily focused on the middle management ranks of this organization, with some input from executive management given that promotional recommendations derive from them.
1.6 Legal and Institutional Framework
1.6.1 Legal Framework
In the context of the research investigation, it is important to identify enabling legislation which in Trinidad and Tobago is limited to Section 4 of the Constitution which declares and recognizes freedom from discrimination ‘by reason of race, origin, colour, religion or sex’, as a fundamental human right.
Attempts were made to enact an Equal Opportunities Act, No. 69 of 2000, but despite proclamation it was judged ‘unworkable’ by the courts in November 2004. Subsequently an Appeal Court ruling on 26th January 2006, further compelled Government to ‘table’ the Act until certain contentious clauses, which themselves proved a violation of various provisions of the Constitution, could be rectified. In October 2007 the Privy Council (the highest Court of Appeal recognized) did rule that the Act be implemented without further delay, but this is yet to happen.
As such the Constitution remains the major legislative piece informing protection against gender discrimination.
1.6.2 Institutional Framework
Given the research context it is important also to note that the employment relationship as relates to state institutions is governed primarily by legislation. To this end, terms and conditions of employment including promotions are prescribed by law. Although sometimes inhibiting this ensures some blanket protection against differential access to opportunities (promotions included) and benefits. The following table is instructive as it relates to the Prison Service.
West Indian Prisons Act, 1838
Chapter 11 No. 7 1950
Seminal rules for governance of the Prison (Administratively and operationally)
Prison Service Act Chapter 13:02
Prison Officers Code of Conduct Regulations Legal Notice No. 79 (1990)
Establishment and Structure of Prison Service
Classification of Offices/Orders and Increments Establishment of procedures for negotiation and consultation between the government and members of Service
Settlement of disputes
Terms and Conditions of Employment – Tenure of Office, Term Appointments, Resignations, Prison Officer and Political Activities, Public Statement by Prison Officers on certain matters,
Mode of Termination of Appointment
Public Service Commission Delegation of Powers, Part 12 of the Laws of Trinidad and Tobago, Chapter 1:01
Devolution of Powers to the Commissioner of Prisons re: Recruitment and other functions
Financial Regulations 1965
Detailed regulation for Government accounting
Legal Notice No. 107 (2000)
The Public Service Commission (Amendment) Regulations 2000
Procedures for determining suitability for promotion
Legislative Guide for Operations of the Trinidad and Tobago Prison Service
Source: Author (2009)
This chapter sought to introduce the context of the dissertation title, both in terms of organizational factors and topical importance therein.
It introduced the perimeters bounding the study through an articulation of the research question to be addressed, and the objectives that would guide execution of the research, so as to facilitate answering of the research question.
The subsequent chapter further gives life to study by perusing the literature and best practices relevant to the area of study.
In order to better put the research area into perspective, as well as to assist further refining of different aspects of the research, an extensive literature review was conducted. This chapter thus reflects a proportionate and critical analysis of the major areas, with coverage given to both the theoretical and empirical literature.
The chapter is structured under relevant headings and sub-headings which include, The Concept of the Glass Ceiling, Establishing the Link with Gender Inequality, The State of the Debate, Barriers to Promotion Encountered by Women, Best Practices in Gender Equality (with a focus on promotions) and The National Social Construct.
The Concept of the Glass Ceiling – The Strategic Undertones
The literature is quite clear on the fact that the glass ceiling is an organizational phenomenon which prevents ascent into high-level management positions (thereby alluding to the strategic relevance of the subject and research). What it is not clear on is exactly what group is affected by this phenomenon. For while Adair (1999) advances that it extends to all minorities and can even expand to include all qualified individuals, other authors like Gang et al. (2003), McDowell et al. (1999), Pollard (2006), Wirth (2002) and Zaimou (2003) believe that it can relate to qualified women. While these latter authors narrow the focus primarily to racial and gender biasness, research by Cotter et al (2001) is more convincing in defining the glass ceiling as a distinct gender phenomenon.
This seeming discord does not however provide a hindrance to this research as the aim was not to evaluate the intricacies of the concept, but to determine whether one existed to block the promotional opportunities of female Officers within the Prison Service.
To clarify the concept and allow for it to serve as a conceptual framework for study it is important to note Cotter et al (2001) criteria for operationalizing the glass ceiling.
They advise that certain conditions must be met before one can suggest that a glass ceiling exists. This includes the fact that the [gender] inequality must not be attributable to other job-relevant characteristics. The implications for this research are that ‘other job-related characteristics’ must be considered before credible conclusions of its’ existence in the TTPS is reached.
Another criterion is that the gender difference must be considered against chances of advancement into higher levels and not the proportion currently there. This implies that chances of a promotion must steadily decrease as one moves up the organizational hierarchy. This therefore reinforces the claim that the glass ceiling can only occur at higher level positions within the organization. A preliminary analysis of this suggests that merely citing ratios of female to males  throughout the organization generally, and at higher positions specifically, is not a credible platform to infer a glass ceiling. Contrastingly though, research by Baxter and Wright (2000), Blum et al (1994) and Powell et al (1994) believed that these proportions are a sufficient basis to suggest a glass ceiling as it is evidence of the effect of a one. Yet these authors too confirm the fact that such ratios only become applicable when considered at higher positions.
To reconcile this debate, this research will look at both sides of the argument. Effectively, chances of elevation will be considered – as evidenced in objective one, defined in chapter 1. In terms of the proportions of females to males though, this will be analyzed, not against proportions currently there only, but proportions overtime. This should seek to address concerns Cotter et al (2001) advanced about merely considering current proportions and in so doing provides a clearer depiction of the ‘chances of promotion’ spoken off. It also embraces the view of other authors cited above who endorse the wisdom of considering proportions as a basis of inferring the existence of a glass ceiling.
In assuming this dual approach, this research is envisaged to add to the body of existing knowledge by confirming whether a glass ceiling can indeed be inferred when considering such ratios overtime, after accounting for other job-related characteristics between the sexes. The research thus argues that chances of promotion can best be explained when considered against the proportions of female to male in senior positions overtime.
2.2.1 Establishing the Link with Gender Inequality
Providing clarification on the interaction between the glass ceiling and gender equality, Baxter and Wright (2000) endorsing Cotter’s (ibid) view, report the “glass ceiling” as one of the most compelling metaphors for analyzing inequalities between men and women in the workplace. They say,
‘the metaphor of the “glass ceiling” implies the existence of an impermeable barrier that blocks the vertical mobility of women: below this barrier, women are able to get promoted; beyond this barrier, they are not.’
Baxter and Wright (2000 p. 276)
The foregoing thus clearly positions the issue of glass-ceilings within the wider theoretical literature related to gender in/equality and therein endorses the research question posed in the context of the research title.
Yet Benschop and Brouns (2005) notes that the glass ceiling can and indeed has been used merely as a catch-phrase that otherwise dilute the focus on the more delicate intricacies of gender inequality.
The scope of this research however does not allow the intimate examination of such intricacies and as such despite these criticisms, the concept does fit with the requirements of the study.
Notwithstanding, evidence of gender inequality - as can be discerned through a glass ceiling - is applicable to this research. This necessitates the identification of exactly what constitutes the barriers that prevent women’s ascension into top management positions. Extending this even further, the issue becomes one of what are the best practices that have been found to forestall or counteract such occurrences – both from a general point of view and in the Corrections fora in particular. The subsequent sub-sections thus attempts to capture these dynamics but first attention is drawn to the current state of the debate in an attempt to show how this research fits with and is likely to contribute to knowledge in the area.
The State of the Debate – What Research Evidence says of Gender Inequality in Promotions/Glass Ceiling
Research thus far has been inconclusive on the extent to which gender inequality in promotion is an issue to be reckoned with.
Studies by Acosta (2005), Cabral et al. (1981), Cobb-Clark (2001), Cannings (1988), Maume (1999), McCue (1996), Olson and Becker (1983), Ransom and Oaxaca (2005), and Spurr (1990), all confirmed that promotion rates were lower between women and men. This was despite similar background knowledge, experience and characteristics. Paradoxically, other studies have found the reverse to true (Barnett et al.,2000, Gerhart and Milkovich, 1989; Hersch and Viscusi, 1996; Spilerman and Petersen, 1999 and Stewart and Gudykunst,1982). There have even been those who found the issue to be a neutral one, with no significant gender difference in promotion rates (Hartmann, 1987; Lewis, 1986; Paulin and Mellor, 1996 and Powell and Butterfield, 1994). In fact research evidence by Giuliano et al. (2005) and Smith (2005) went on to find no gender difference in promotion rates at all – except when differences in performance indicators and work commitment were evident. Paradoxically Peterson and Saporta (2004) were actually able to prove a glass ceiling for men. Their findings are less surprising though when the context of the study is explored. Not unexpectedly in a construction and engineering company it was found that promotion rates were higher for men than women at lower positions in the organization but were reversed higher up the organizational hierarchy, especially with managerial and administrative positions.
Meanwhile a longitudinal study by Eberts and Stone (1985) somewhat explained the disparate findings. They found that while gender differences favouring males was evident in the early 1970s, by the end of the 70s this became insignificant as equal opportunity legislation began being introduced. In the Trinidad & Tobago context though it is important to note that the legislative framework is notably sparse when compared to the territories like the US and UK, where there has most certainly been a proliferation of legislation aimed at forestalling discrimination.
Rigorous searches of the available literature have found precious few published studies related to gender inequalities in Trinidad and Tobago specifically. Although two stand out as having some significance (Ferdinand, 2001 and Reddock and Bobb-Smith, 2008) neither relates immediately to the context of this research. That is to say, the former treats with issues of gender equality but as it relates to Women in Entrepreneurship, while the latter treats with gender issues in terms of work-life balance debate and not the conception of the glass ceiling/gender inequality specifically. Reddock and Bobb-Smith (2008) did find though that in state agencies (as is the TTPS) opportunities for career advancement tend to be greater for women when compared to women in private enterprise. While this may deny the existence of a glass ceiling in public sector organizations, it remains to be seen whether the results of this study – with focus on a particular state entity - would corroborate this.
When it comes to the field of Corrections specifically, research findings on gender inequality in promotions appear similarly inconclusive. Of the few studies conducted in the area, research by Camp and Langan (2005), Cassirer and Reskin (2000) and Fry and Glaser (1987) all found differently. Camp and Langan (2005) found that there could be some inequalities, Cassirer and Reskin (2000) found that men were typically promoted ahead of women but Fry and Glaser (1987) found there to be equal chances of promotion between the sexes. Inasmuch as there appears to be no study on gender inequality in Caribbean Corrections, and certainly with none having been undertaken on the Trinidad and Tobago Prison Service in particular, this study shall serve an important installment in illuminating the deficient body of knowledge that currently exists.
Despite this lack of consensus in research, one of the very salient points raised within this coverage is highlighted by Giuliano et al. (2005) and Smith (2005) who advise on the importance of accounting for work performance and commitment when evaluating promotion decisions. – factors that must be considered in this research.
It is instructive though to examine the barriers that impede promotion of women generally and thereafter at those particularly affecting women in Corrections. The next section addresses this.
Barriers to Promotion Encountered by Women
Sexual harassment has been viewed by Pollard (2006) as one of the major obstacles to the equitable promotion of women. Ironically she notes that when women do not succumb to such advances the perpetrators go on to victimize these women particularly by rating their work performance poorly. ILO (2004) report similar results as was evidenced in a 2003 Catalyst  study of women from various Fortune 1000 companies.
Looking at Corrections specifically, research findings as reported by Kim et al (2003), McMahon (1999), Rader (2005), Savicki et al (2003), and Zimmer (1986) all confirm this. Rader (2005) however spoke of another way that sexual harassment affects the chances of promotion for women. He said that harassment related stress forces female officers to absent themselves from work which eventually reflects negatively on their record. Conversely though, while research by Benett et al (2008) acknowledge that sexual harassment occurred, their findings did not reveal the same negative outcomes, as according to them women officers reported having ‘developed a thick skin, having become skilled at, and used to brushing things off or giving as good as they get’(p. 75).
Lack of Mentoring
Lyness and Thompson (2000) acknowledge that mentoring plays a key role in promotions. Yet they opine that the opportunity for cross-gender mentoring presents a unique set of problems that result in a lack of such opportunities for women. For example, males tend to be cautious that the interpersonal relations that must be developed for mentoring to be successful, can be viewed as inappropriate.
Ragins and Scandura (1994) note though that women executives have no such qualms. This becomes of special significance in light of assertions by Tharenou (2005) which says that same-sex mentor programmes leads to higher promotion rates. Unfortunately though, the Catalyst 2003 study as reported by the ILO (2004) found that there was a proportional shortage of female mentors for female employees.
Stereotyping and Work-Family Conflict
ILO (2004) notes research evidence from the 2003 Catalyst study which found stereotyping and preconceptions of women’s roles as mothers to negatively influence chances of promotions. Pollard (2006) further explains that because some working women may be mothers, they tended to be viewed inflexible in terms of work schedules and this negatively skewed perceptions of their suitability for top-level management positions. Armytage et al. (2000) verified that this tended to be a prevailing sentiment in the Corrections arena as well.
Still on Corrections, Martin and Jurik (1996) note that professions certainly are not gender-neutral and that indeed Corrections have been viewed as a profession better suited to males. In sync with this, Camp and Langan (2005), Crewe (2006), and Lutze and Murphy (1999), say that inevitably this perception is likely to prejudice a female’s promotional opportunities, especially into senior-management positions.
In the local context this work-life conflict is additionally exacerbated given the family-oriented and sexist culture  for which T&T is known (Reddock and Bobb-Smith, 2008)
Liff and Ward (2001) place organizational culture at the forefront of promotional decisions. Likewise, ILO (2004) contends that most barriers to the promotion of women are rooted in the organizational culture, especially masculine cultures that refuse to accept women as legitimate and equal partners to organizational success. While Meyerson and Fletcher (2000) tentatively agree that some organizations do enforce certain more masculine attributes, they caution that contemporary men tend to be unwitting actors in traditions long steeped in masculine conventions. Meanwhile Kaufman et al (1996) reports that in the management and leadership domains, research consistently show that male-traits tend to underscore the definition of a successful manager/leader. Building on this point, Pollard (2005) speaks of the wisdom of investigating whether promotion decisions tend to be based on masculine as opposed to feminine attributes as this may explain why a glass ceiling exists or predict its’ existence. Citing the work of Powell et al (2002) she supports the relevance of the Bem Sex-Role Inventory to assist deliberations.
Taking a somewhat different view on culture Miles and Niethammer (2009) contend that cultures which require long and non-standardized work hours do inhibit the growth potential of females.
Having explored the barriers that exist to block the promotion of females, both on a general and industry specific basis, the best practices to counteract same shall now be explored. Notwithstanding some of these would have been implicit in the look at the barriers themselves.
Best Practices in Gender Equality as it relates to Promotions
Organizational & Culture Change
If organizational culture can be viewed as being at the hearth of gender equality in promotions, it makes sense therefore to seek to inculcate cultures that would support women’s advancement in the organization. In this context culture change is aggressively argued by the ILO (2004) as a key to shattering conceptions of a glass ceiling.
The blueprint as to exactly what must be changed and how this is to be effected is convincingly captured Kelleher and Stuart (2008) who build upon work by Wilber (2000).
Framework for Gender Equality Changes
Source: Kelleher and Stuart (2008)
The basic idea behind the framework is that change ought to occur at both the individual and systems level.
At the individual informal level (Quadrant 1) it requires persons within the organization to be so educated that stereotypes assigned to women and their capabilities and competencies be dispelled. This extends even to the way women may view themselves. Also at the individual level but on a more tangible basis (Quadrant 2), it requires that women be provided with resources such as promotional opportunities, access to training, and freedom from harassment, for example. Of significance, it is worthy of note that Meyerson and Fletcher (2000) and Miles and Niethammer (2009) both aggressively advocate the case for education of females as a basis for assisting their promotional opportunities.
While these top two quadrants are aimed at individual level change, the bottom two quadrants focus on system wide organizational change.
Quadrant 3 communicates a requirement for a set of formal policies and procedures such as gender and family-friendly HR policies. Meanwhile Quadrant 4 speaks to the need for an organizational culture and climate that effectively manages diversity. Kandola and Fullerton (1998) explain that to manage diversity requires that all individual differences – gender included – be harnessed and valued – ensuring that talents are being fully utilized in the pursuit of organizational goals.
Consequently, this framework by Kelleher and Stuart (2008) can be deemed a best-practice standard against which gender equality initiatives can be mapped and will be used to assess how much change is required of the Prison Service.
Coaching and Mentoring
In an article in the Sunday Times in 2006 by an unknown author, it was noted that in a bid to ensure gender equality, many organizations were offering female employees coaching to level the playing field in terms of competence building to assist promotions. It further espouses coaching to be particularly relevant to women employed in male-dominated environments (as is the Correctional environment).
Similarly the European Commission (2008), Pollard (2005) and Tharenou (2005) all argue in favour of mentorship programmes to assist advancement for females. In support the Connecticut Bar Association in 2007 was able to report that mentoring programs worked particularly well for them in efforts at ensuring greater numbers of females ascended into higher level positions.
2.5.3 Family-friendly Policies & Diversity Management
Family-friendly policies also feature prominently in the literature surrounding those practices that have been proven to ‘level the playing field for women’ with the ILO recommending that diversity management initiatives cater to same (ILO, 2004). Indeed studies by the European Commission (2008), Miles and Niethammer (2009), Moser (2007), and Reddock and Bobb-Smith (2008) all recommended that family-friendly policies including flexible work-schedules could assist the cause.
In fact, firms like Motorola, DeLoitte and Touche – winners of the Catalyst Award (given annually for firms that advance the status of women) have linked diversity and business objectives by holding managers responsible for the retention and promotion of women.
The National Social Construct
It is instructive to note that attempts at rectifying gender inequalities in the workplace are constrained by broader macro and micro considerations that operate at the national level.
In this regard the importance of gender-sensitive indicators becomes important. Moser (2007:6) advises that these ‘measure gender-related changes in society overtime’. By so doing they can provide the context for understanding challenges the firm faces in their own attempts at ensuring gender equality.
Some of the more popular indicators are captured in the table below.
Gender-related Development Index (GDI)
Not a specific measure of gender inequality but popular in gender discourse as it adjusts the Human Development Index to account for gender inequalities in life expectancy, education and income.
Gender Empowerment Measure (GEM)
Considers gender gaps in political representation, professional and management positions and gender gaps in income.
Gender Equity Index
Complements and expands the GDI and GEM by accounting for gender inequality in education, participation in the economy and empowerment.
Gender Gap Index
Comprehensive tool used to measure gender equality.
Sources: compiled and informed by Demetriades (2009), Moser (2007), Wach and Reeves (2000)
In terms of applicability to this study Demetriades (2009) notes that both the GDI and GEM is particularly useful in identifying gender gaps in developing countries – such as is T&T. However Moser (2007) citing UNRISD (2005) reports that the GDI is biased in favour of richer countries and thus advocates preference to GEM for countries like Trinidad.
Most recently available GEM rankings, published for 2007/2008, quite favourably ranks T&T as high in human development, ranking 23rd amongst 93 countries (Human Development Report 2007/2008). GGI 2009 rankings also positions T&T positively – a handsome number 19 out of 134 countries making up the analysis. Trend overtime on this index shows a significant jump in ranking, between 2006 and 2009 – from 45 up to the enviable position 19 as previously noted (Global Gender Gap Report, 2008). In terms of the GEI, statistics from 2007 again scored T&T kindly with the 15th highest equity score of the 154 countries ranked. When considered along the lines of change though results appear less satisfactory with a four year trend on this index showing a -0.90% evolution (Social Watch, 2007).
What the results of these indices suggest though is that while inequity exists, considering that T&T is a developing country they have scored comparatively well even against more developed nations.
Perhaps this can be explained by certain legislative pieces which although not specifically aimed at gender equality do offer some protection; after-all, Moser (2007) does note the significant role that legislation plays in regulating the playfield. The table below is instructive.