Audrey Oswell, president and managing director at the Atlantis Resort, leads one of the largest private employers in The Bahamas. Immediately joining her in the ranks of the leadership hierarchy are 20 senior vice presidents, five of whom are women – Giselle Pyfrom, executive vice president, corporate governance and chief legal officer; Karen Carey, senior vice president, human resources; Michelle Liu, senior vice president, marine and waterpark operations; Marie Torres, chief marketing officer; and Judith Thompson, vice president and general manager, Harbourside Resort.
As International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated globally, Oswell, Atlantis’ first female president, said women should acknowledge and celebrate this day, looking at how far women have all come while also recognizing how far women still need to go to reach true equality; not just for women but for all mankind.
“Today should motivate women all over the world to keep demanding and to support equality for themselves, their communities and for people around the world,” said Oswell, Atlantis’ first female president.
Her challenge to women on this day that marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity would be for females to look at the women in their life personally and professionally, and ask themselves how they can help them more in their lives.
“How can you be a mentor? How can you do more to help in their daily life? We are all so busy, however, stopping to help those around you can do wonders not only for your colleagues, friends and community but also for yourself.”
Marked annually on March 8 to celebrate women’s achievements, raise awareness about women’s equality, lobby for accelerated gender parity and fundraise for female-focused charities, to make a positive difference for themselves, Oswell maintains that women should be an example of the change they want to see in their workplace, in their home life or wherever it may be.
“Women should challenge the norm, speak up when something is not right and accept nothing less than equality for all. Exercise their rights, support the women around them, acknowledge the many men who are committed to gender equality and stay committed to a better future for all, knowing each and every one of us can make a difference.”
Oswell’s advice is for women to stay true to their beliefs and goals and to speak up and advocate for themselves.
“Strive to always do the right thing at the end of each day in your career. You want to be able to reflect back and know you made a difference – in a good way. I am proud to serve as the first female president of Atlantis, Paradise Island. I hope my position opens doors and inspires other young people, women and other minorities to take leadership roles in hospitality and gaming industries.”
Oswell said men and women need to ensure all are given the opportunity to serve in leadership positions, and that women and supportive men need to speak up and demand fair, equitable status.
On IWD, Carey, who leads the human resources strategy at the property, urges women to reflect on the power they all have within them to produce positive change and impact to better their society and communities.
“My advice to all women on this day is to always remember no matter your gender, culture, race or religion, you as an individual are empowered to create change through your actions, your voice and through education. On this day, we reflect on the power we all have within us to produce positive change and impact, to better our society and communities.”
She said IWD is a global day of reflection and celebration that reminds women of their bond, and how together they can use their strength, voice and aspirations to affect different areas of their lives – home, family, workplace and community.
The human resources professional said this year’s theme “Choose To Challenge” is significant because it is a direct call to action for women to listen, respond and make change.
“Through education, no matter the age, gender, culture or religion, together we will unite as women, and work to create a unified equal voice for women and men, for generations to come.
“Today is indeed a call to action. Every action – no matter the size – is an important step forward … finishing your studies, embracing a continuous learning mindset, finding new perspectives in your experiences. Let your voice make a difference wherever there is an action toward positive change and equality for you and others. Your actions will be modeled by the younger generation at the very minimum, and so by using your voice, your education, your mind, you will naturally empower others.”
With well over a century of celebrations, Carey said IWD isn’t necessarily a need, but rather a day to highlight the positive change in society and reflect on what actions need to continue.
“It is a day to remind us that all education leads to empowerment and empowerment leads to positive impact, growth, advancement and change for women and all of humanity.”
Thompson, vice president and general manager, Harbourside Resort, a vacation ownership property at the Atlantis, admits the fact that there is still an IWD a century later, speaks to the fact that while women have made tremendous strides, there is still a long way to go.
“If ever there was a time to seize the opportunity, that time is now. Women are excelling around the world and stepping into positions of leadership on a global stage. From New Zealand to Bermuda to the United States, women are assuming seats at the head of the table. If Caribbean women cannot find an example within their immediate sphere, examples abound around the world. Women should use these ladies as inspiration and challenge themselves to do it [speak up, speak out, act out], even if they are afraid. In some instances, you may be the ‘first’ or perhaps even the ‘only’. Do it scared – but just do it anyway,” urges Thompson.
She said having the example of a few women in positions of authority does not mean women have overcome.
“It is our responsibility to create a legacy of excellence to not only prove it can be done, but to normalize seeing a woman in charge. Make it so that women and men [in particular] no longer find it unusual reporting to a female boss.”
Carey said women also have a responsibility to actively mentor other women to ensure those women who are the firsts in their field will not be the last.
“A century later, there is still a need for IWD because parity has not been achieved and progress is a slippery slope; it would be easy to lose focus and lose the gains that have been made. Seeing men in positions of power is still the default position; seeing women in positions of power is the exception,” said Thompson.