Good afternoon, everyone.
It is a pleasure to be speaking to you today here at Shirvan Road Police Station in Tobago at this INL eBike Handover Ceremony.
At the American Chamber of Commerce of Trinidad and Tobago (AMCHAM T&T), we have a strong desire and record of delivering quality service to our members, their communities, and our nation. This handover ceremony serves as another amazing example and a reminder of how collaboration, mutual trust and commitment to a single cause can build bridges and unite people and organisations around an initiative that will benefit the wider interest of the community.
When AMCHAM T&T first got the call about this initiative, there wasn't a moment of hesitation about whether we should get involved or not. Initiatives such as this which hold the dual purpose of positively impacting the quality of life of our citizens while simultaneously improving the ease of doing business will always remain a top priority for us at AMCHAM T&T. Therefore, we are very happy to be partnering with the US Embassy, the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service, and the many agencies whom you see here today on this very worthy initiative.
Against this background, I take great pleasure to thank the US Embassy and Chargé d'Affaires Shante Moore for providing an opportunity for partnership on this noble venture initiated by the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL).
I must also extend my personal gratitude to Amerijet International Airlines - one of AmchamT&T’s loyal members - for their partnership and support with the construction and outfitting of the E-Bike Recharging Station that will be delivered to the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service Tourism Oriented Police Unit (TTPS TOPS) at the Shirvan and Roxborough Police Stations.
The introduction of these solar-charging eBikes as a solution to combatting crime while incorporating technology is a major step forward in our nation's anti-crime arsenal. I want to personally thank the TTPS for their progressive stance to lead with technology as they continue their challenging work to combat crime in our nation.
We are very fortunate to be living in a digital era right now where almost every part of human functioning has an element of technology that makes life much easier, simpler, and more efficient. Therefore, technology must remain a critical means of crime prevention strategies and policies to keep citizens safe.
The deployment of these eBikes will serve multiple purposes in crime prevention and the police response to criminal activity. Citizens can feel assured of better engagement with their law enforcement officers in their communities through increased neighbourhood patrols as well as the eBikes will also help law enforcement to move more efficiently in spaces where a vehicle would be more cumbersome or dangerous and respond to emergency situations a lot quicker - bringing a measure of relief to all citizens.
This is particularly important here in Tobago with its scenic beaches and unique flora and fauna, it is important that we conduct business inclusive of crime prevention, in a manner that is ever mindful of this pristine environment.
Additionally, with the unique cultural events and festivals that are known to draw record crowds every year, these eBikes will ensure an added measure of safety and protection to patrons and spectators at these events.
At AMCHAM T&T, our partnership and support of this initiative are both necessary and strategic. Necessary, because crime is a problem that affects everyone both directly and indirectly. Our quality of life is hampered, our businesses suffer, and ultimately, our nation pays the price when we are unable to attract both tourists and investors to our shores.
It is also strategic for us because partnering on this venture complies with our mandate to promote technology and greater attention to the conservation of our environment across all industries and sectors to ensure our nation's sustainable growth and development.
Moving forward, we need a lot more of these private-public partnerships as we seek to combat some of these big problems with even bigger solutions to drive progress in our nation. And so as I close, I reaffirm AMCHAM T&T's commitment to working with all our stakeholders on initiatives such as this one so we can create a safer society for all citizens of our beautiful twin-island republic.
by Toni Sirju-Ramnarine
Good morning, everyone.
WELCOME to the AMCHAM T&T-Republic Bank - Tech Hub Islands Summit (THIS) 2022.
It is a real honor to be with you today live and in-person to kickstart what promises to be three days of engaging and thought-provoking discussions.
Before I begin, I want to start by acknowledging the support of our sponsors. We are delighted to have Republic Bank return once more as our Title Sponsor and for sharing the vision we have of T&T becoming a major tech hub globally.
I must also acknowledge our other sponsors: Platinum Sponsors: PwC; IDB; Digicel; Eximbank; SI Digital; our Gold Sponsors: Guardian Group; NIO Digital; Proman; Silver Sponsor: Balroop Group; Session Sponsors: Visa and the TTIFC; Digital Media Partner: LoopTT and our Transportation Partner: Europcar. All that we are able to do here today is largely built on the support and partnership of these organisations.
Four years ago, when we started the first edition of this, we wanted to amplify the importance of digital transformation to our economy. We are of the firm belief that a tech sector in Trinidad and Tobago can be a critical component of a diversification strategy.
The vision we had for this was to build a national tech ecosystem and marketplace that will allow local businesses to export tech services to international markets.
We also wanted to develop a critical mass of local talent and to put the established businesses in touch with the young disruptors to start collaborating more on problem-solving facilitated by technology.
To accomplish this, we knew we had to first start investing in our people. Bringing together representatives from the private and public sectors and all other stakeholders and interest groups was central to our digital transformation vision. I want to offer my gratitude to AMCHAM T&T's Digital Transformation Committee for their hard work over these past four years which helped us to achieve this goal. And the result is THIS – a conference bringing together these very minds! So you see we’re living the theme of this year’s conference - change in action
Now the question is: what do we do next? The answer is to continue building on what we created. Therefore, "Change in Action" over the next three days will see us highlighting the success stories of the young disruptors and innovators who are at the forefront of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Their inspiring stories will hopefully channel a new influx of creativity and innovation to show us how technology can underpin a more fulfilling, productive, and profitable way of life.
Today competitiveness is about being innovative. The experiences of the past two years have definitely taught us that. But what does that mean in an ever-changing world? How do we continuously reinvent our business operations, redefine our dreams, and reimagine a future that has us staying both competitive and successful?
THIS 2022 is set up to answer these questions. This year we will amplify the work that needs to be done around building the local Fintech Industry and Financial Inclusion. We will share information to develop a futureproof digital infrastructure and make T&T a real player in the global tech supply chain.
But THIS isn't just a platform for discussions. THIS is a space to foster meaningful partnerships between key stakeholders:
- the private and public sectors
- the key innovators and disruptors with larger and long established, experienced entities
- local talent and internationally operating tech giants
You are all in this room. Jointly, we are here to learn, we are here to collaborate, we are here to form partnerships, and we are here to deliver the technological dream and vision we have for our businesses and our nation.
Let's start by accepting that this is now a "tele-everything" world. Recent global events have deepened our relationships with technology. Today we rely on digital connections for work, education, health, daily commercial transactions, and essential social interactions. This has existed for some time now, became amplified as a result of the pandemic and continues as an extension of the pandemic. And there's no forecast showing that the human connection to technology will change any time soon.
Digital adoption has become the mainstay of our operations and human functioning in recent times. There is no escaping it. But while we evolve with it, we need to make sure that we are building a world that:
1) enhances the quality of life for many families and workers,
2) fueling safety and convenience through the increased use of digital tools, and
3) enhancing interconnectedness to engender empathy, trust, and the administration of truth.
A digital era cannot have us worrying about:
- worsening economic inequality because of the digital divide;
- "big tech" exploiting their market advantage to erode the privacy and autonomy of users;
- or the weaponisation of lies and hate speech to manipulate public perception, emotion, and action to sow hate and discord in society.
Currently, we see a lot of this happening already in our world. What would be new is how we come together to solve these problems even as we embrace technology in all parts of our business operations and lives.
If technology is being harnessed to provide solutions, we will overcome these problems. But we must have a clearly defined strategy with intended goals and leadership buy-in from the decision-makers. Your presence here today suggests you already recognise this. Now we just have to agree on a clear roadmap to build the tech ecosystem and start doing the work.
The work must start with ensuring that digital transformation in the private sector does not outpace the rate at which it happens in the public sector, or vice versa. A true return on investment from digital transformation requires a coordinated and simultaneous approach between both private and public entities.
AMCHAM T&T, through THIS and the work of our Digital Transformation Committee, has outlined several key policies in the past to help fulfill our digital agenda. I don't want to sound repetitive, but we would like to see the government take swift action on these policies to fully reap the benefits of digital transformation.
We remain hopeful that the unique national e-identification will be operationalised soon so that we can simultaneously track the state's interactions with citizens while ensuring equitable access to public benefits and services for every citizen. Recently at our AGM Minister in the Ministry of Finance Brian Manning indicated that the Government is working on this and another of our recommendations, a data interoperability framework for the Government. We are hopeful that these will be actioned this calendar year.
Also, we have seen how cashless payment systems and other advanced technologies like machine learning, blockchain, automation, bank lending, or consumer lending have digitally transformed many businesses elsewhere. With Trinidad & Tobago having the largest financial services industry in the English-Speaking Caribbean, we can leverage this to develop a thriving fintech ecosystem. This way we can boost innovation, advance financial inclusion, strengthen public financial management systems, and promote positive economic transformation. With the right mix of incentives, policies, and legislation to promote growth, innovation, and adoption, we can build this fintech ecosystem.
If we are going to invest in technology, then we must make sure that R&D is at the core of our growth strategy. This is how we will drive economic growth or spur innovation, invention, or progress.
In fact, one of the recommendations to the Government for inclusion in the upcoming budget is to support R&D in private companies through the allowance of a write-off of 75 % of the working capital used to support innovation against chargeable income tax, up to a limit of 2% of a company’s annual revenue in the prior year. We hope this recommendation will be taken into consideration.
Nearshoring is another sector that can provide a great return on investment considering recent global events such as the pandemic. Trinidad and Tobago’s immense resources and talent create the ideal environment to position itself as a world-class nearshore provider for foreign companies seeking to establish operations in new locations.
Currently, our close proximity to North America, English-speaking talent pool, favorable economic climate for investment, and relative ease of doing business are just some of the key factors that make T&T a prime destination for the emergence of a nearshoring sector. We believe this is what will keep us attractive to foreign investors seeking to fill their digital transformation gaps as they look to outsource their operations to other territories.
Indeed, we have held meetings with the Ministers of Trade and Digital Transformation on this proposal and are pleased to say that both Ministries have agreed to work in collaboration with us on the initiative. Further, last week, we convened the inaugural meeting of a Technical Working Group on this initiative and on Friday, we will have a wider meeting with stakeholders, as part of t.h.i.s., to brainstorm ideas to create a tech hub in T&T.
Finally, it's important to note that developing a tech ecosystem will not reap the intended benefits in the absence of the regulatory and legislative environment to facilitate its success. With many businesses now relying on technology and software to provide key services and collecting vast amounts of data from their customers, keeping the information secure has become a major priority. Therefore, our digital transformation dreams require a strong and robust governance framework to guide this tech ecosystem. We will need more efficient cybersecurity networks and the implementation of the Electronic Transactions Act, Data Protection Act and the Transfer of Funds Act coupled with policies to protect the free sharing of open data to ensure the vital success of our digital journey.
As I close, I want you to know that AMCHAM T&T's focus on technology doesn't stop at the end of this summit. We will continue to do the work that is necessary to improve our business functions, enhance the quality of life for citizens and drive economic growth and sustainability from everything that technology has to offer.
We recently hosted another BreakbeatCode hackathon – which teaches coding through music – for 50 young people in T&T. We expect to do another such hackathon this year to be followed by a longer 12-week course for more intense coding training.
Our digital skills gap study with the IDB is almost completed. The findings will help guide the development of training programmes to support the growth of local firms and investor firms as the tech sector expands in T&T. Such a study should provide policy-relevant information on how key actors in the digital economy can better interact towards improving the country’s attractiveness for foreign investment based on an internationally competitive supply of digital talent. It will also examine distinct elements of the digital economy, including gaps in digital inclusion, emerging opportunities for e-commerce, and state responses to facilitate gap closure.
Also, our Security Committee is finalising the cyber-security guidelines which we hope to make available to our members soon. So, the work continues for us as I hope it will for you following this summit.
I hope you feel as excited as we do that digital transformation can be the engine of our economic growth and sustainability. I don’t expect you to have all the answers today or even by the end of this summit, but my hope is that the connections we leave here with will help advance the partnerships and collaboration needed to build the roadmap to our digitally connected future with fewer detours. I hope the information we share with you over the next few days will be useful and rewarding to both your businesses’ survival and our country's future.
Thank you once more to all our sponsors, speakers, and to Ms. Rey-Anne Paynter, TECH Community and Projects Officer at AMCHAM T&T and to everyone at the Secretariat for all their hard work in putting together this event.
Toni Sirju-Ramnarine - AMCHAM T&T President
It is my pleasure to welcome you to AMCHAM T&T’s 29th Annual General Meeting and Business Forum.
I have to begin by saying how wonderful it is to be joining you here today IN PERSON after two years of virtual interactions. I know personally that it was difficult for me to take on this Presidency last year in the virtual space and have to deliver these remarks to a camera from home at the AGM, so I am indeed delighted to be here.
Let me assure you that these in-person and hybrid events are something we are intending to do more of now. Our Board and I are very much looking forward to having the opportunity to interact more with all of you.
And speaking of our Board, I warmly welcome our new and returning Directors to AMCHAM T&T’s Board of Directors. Thank you for the faith and confidence you have placed in me over this past year as President. I look forward to working and growing with you in the coming year.
This is an important year for us at AMCHAM T&T, as not only are we celebrating returning to in-person events, we are also celebrating a major milestone for our chamber.
We are celebrating our organisation’s 30th Anniversary. It may seem difficult to believe it now but the organisation that has faithfully served you so well over the past three decades started as a simple idea during a breakfast meeting among colleagues at the residence of the then US Ambassador.
For those of you who own or manage a company, you know that every great product, service or invention starts with having a simple idea – an idea that can solve a problem, transform societies, or even birth a new nation for a new era. We’d like to think that AMCHAM T&T has contributed significantly to our country’s private sector and the progress of our society.
There are many accomplishments we can reflect on that have added immense value to your businesses and have advanced development in our nation.
Some notable achievements include our 26 years of HSSE advocacy – AMCHAM T&T has been a leader in this sphere, and we can truly say that this has been transformational across many sectors in our society.
We have also hosted important trade missions to boost trade and investment opportunities, and we’ve strengthened our access to AACCLA whose board has consisted of several former and current AMCHAM T&T Directors and on which our Past President Patricia Ghany and our CEO Nirad Tewarie still currently sit.
This association with ACCLA has brought benefits, the most recent of which was securing a speaking spot for Massy Group CEO Gervase Warner at the recently concluded CEO Summit of the Americas three weeks ago.
Our work on gender equity has helped us to reach gender parity on our Board in 2020, which we maintained in 2021, and yet again in 2022. Meanwhile, our annual Women’s Leadership Conference continue to grow and draw widespread interest with this year’s conference having over 500 attendees registered.
More recently, we created THIS, the Tech Hub Islands Summit - our nation’s first major technology conference – at a time when, arguably, digital transformation wasn't yet quite seen as the imperative it is today.
These are all bright and shining examples of AMCHAM T&T's reach, influence, and relevance in representing the business interests of the private sector in an ever-evolving world.
As we celebrate these achievements, we also celebrate our members. Had it not been for your support coupled with the leadership shown by our past and current boards and respective committees, as well as the hard work of our CEO and Secretariat, we would not be able to celebrate these milestones and major victories. AMCHAM T&T thanks each of you for your unwavering support and we look forward to another 30 years of more wins shared with you.
This sets the tone for what I am going to speak about today: enabling recovery, growth, and resilience in the context of sustainable development in our nation.
The past two years have presented many setbacks to our lives and businesses. The impact of an ongoing pandemic, climate change, and recent geopolitical tensions arising both near and far from our region continues to disrupt business. Against this backdrop, companies have been forced to make many difficult decisions to stay alive and afloat. But in the midst of these tumultuous times, many promising opportunities have also arisen. Here is where I would like to speak about what AMCHAM T&T has been working on and will continue to progress this coming year to support our recovery, growth, and resilience.
Investing in Technology is a prime example. Today every company can be called a TECH company. For the past two years, technology has provided the fuel to sustain most of our operations in the wake of such unprecedented challenges. Looking ahead this is not going to change. Already, many companies have made the digital switch or are seeking to invest more in digital transformation.
For any of this to happen, we must start leveraging new technologies and applying them across all sectors of the economy to equally benefit all companies. Doing this will ensure that technology becomes a real enabler for innovation and development.
We have seen how technology can transform the way companies produce and sell their goods and services. We know the potential it has to open up new markets and new business models, resulting in higher levels of productivity, production, and profits to grow the economy.
What we require more of now are the structural changes to promote innovation. Therefore, building a thriving tech sector requires greater investment in research and development, advancing education, bridging the digital divide, and creating an easier regulatory environment to enable our entrepreneurs to start businesses more easily. Both the private and public sectors have to do this together, but we must make this a major priority within our operations and as part of our country’s economic agenda.
AMCHAM T&T’s promotion of technology is mainly to help solve problems by building a vibrant tech ecosystem to fuel the digital economy. In two weeks, we will be hosting the 4th edition of the Tech Hub Islands Summit (this), where we will hear from tech giants Bernard Meyerson, Chief Innovation Officer Emeritus at IBM and David White, Global Technology Team Lead for Infrastructure Modernization at Google Cloud. THIS 2022 will return to an in-person Conference and Exhibition on July 6th – 8th, 2022 at the Hyatt Regency, Port-of-Spain with the option to stream the summit and participate in a virtual exhibition on the virtual platform at techislands.net. We look forward to welcoming you to THIS 2022!
The second major initiative we have been progressing, which we believe has the potential to be truly transformational for our economy and is linked to national digital transformation, is developing a Nearshoring strategy, with a view to diversifying the economy and attracting investment in T&T.
We recently presented a policy paper developed by the AMCHAM T&T's Digital Transformation Committee and our Secretariat to the Minister of Trade & Industry and the Minister of Digital Transformation, both with whom we are currently working, alongside other agencies, to execute the strategies outlined in the paper.
Developing a nearshoring sector amidst the instabilities shaping our world right now may work in our favour as companies seek to move operations closer to home because of ongoing conflicts, supply chain concerns, the issues highlighted by the pandemic and climate change. The potential here for the development of this sector will result in viable export, foreign exchange earning opportunities, and increased jobs.
As we work to develop a detailed roadmap for this sector, AMCHAM T&T wishes to thank the Honourable Ministers Paula Gopee-Scoon & Hassel Bacchus and the teams from the Ministries of Trade and Industry & Digital Transformation for the collaboration and support on this initiative. We look forward to continued engagement to generate mutually desired results.
As we set the stage for recovery and growth towards sustainable development, we cannot ignore how the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the impact of climate change have emerged as serious threats to attracting investments. In response, companies are adopting Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) measures to thrive today and future-proof themselves from tomorrow's risks. This is why key investors, stakeholders and policymakers are now looking at companies with built-in, measurable ESG policies as a prerequisite for investment - a point made clear in a recent PwC 2021 Global Investor ESG Survey where 79% of investment professionals from 43 territories said their investment decision making hinges on the way a company manages ESG risks and opportunities.
Therefore, I take pleasure in announcing that AMCHAM T&T has established a stand-alone ESG Committee. AMCHAM T&T's ESG Committee will help track how the ESG/Sustainability standards are applied to Trinidad & Tobago while sharing information and best practice advice on current issues affecting the realms of ESG.
Thanks to the tremendous work of Mark Thomas and the UNDP office in Trinidad & Tobago, we will be able to share with our members and the wider business community, an ESG handbook that is tailored to the Caribbean context.
Having reviewed this handbook, I can tell you that it is very comprehensive, and for those of you who are looking to introduce ESG more deliberately into your businesses or to enhance your existing practices, this is an excellent resource.
So, I want you to feel confident in relying on us at AMCHAM T&T for assistance, as you progress this important area of ESG to make your businesses more resilient and improve overall social wellbeing.
That point brings me to the Rule of Law, another area AMCHAM T&T has been progressing. The key to an attractive and welcoming business environment begins with the predictable application of laws, policies, and processes. However, corruption – both actual corruption and the perception of corruption – a painfully slow justice system and violent crime pose major problems to both societal development and the ease of doing business.
We cannot build a resilient and cohesive society or conduct business in the absence of citizen security, fairness, and access to justice. There have been many solutions brought forward to help curb the rise of criminal activity. Ultimately, I believe the situation requires an "all-hands-on-deck" approach, for which AMCHAM T&T is committed to doing its part to help address these issues.
Our soon-to-be-established Rule of Law committee will provide additional resources, skills sharing, and knowledge transfer between the private sector and the government on this important national issue. We are delighted to have Mr Clive Fletcher, Managing Director at Unicomer who will chair this committee which will include representatives from the US Embassy in Trinidad and Tobago, The Trinidad and Tobago Transparency Institute and the Law Association of Trinidad and Tobago.
We must all work together to create a society rooted in good governance and high levels of social mobility and equality so that our citizens are made to feel safe, our businesses can thrive, and the economy becomes more efficient and attractive to investment.
These are very promising initiatives and to help achieve them, we need more meaningful public-private partnerships geared towards national development initiatives.
We need to upgrade the existing infrastructure so that we develop a booming tech hub and drive economic growth derived from nearshoring opportunities.
We need to improve the ease of doing business to attract greater investment by addressing concerns at the ports and with customs.
And as we invest in ESG and Tech, we need to strengthen our cybersecurity frameworks and ensure we have the necessary regulatory and legislative environment to facilitate these objectives.
All of this is possible by working together. AMCHAM T&T will continue to do our part. We... each of us, must do our part.
As I close, I remain optimistic about our future. Current commodity prices give the Government and likely many of our businesses some fiscal space. We must all use this wisely, understanding that this is a temporary situation.
There is no reason why the pathway to recovery, growth, and resilience toward sustainable development cannot lead to a place where social mobility is facilitated; or where inequalities are replaced by greater opportunities; or where our economy is in the top three most attractive places for investment in the hemisphere.
At AMCHAM T&T, these are goals that we have championed over the last thirty years, and goals I promise you, we will continue to work towards achieving over the next 30 years and beyond.
Finally, I say thank you to all our sponsors of today’s AGM and to our hardworking Secretariat. Ladies and gentlemen, I very much look forward to catching up with each of you at our networking cocktails following this meeting.
Good afternoon everyone.
I am Toni Sirju-Ramnarine, President of AMCHAM T&T.
It is my pleasure to wish you a warm welcome to the launch of the AMCHAM T&T and IDB's 5th Women in Leadership Mentorship Programme.
I would like to begin by offering my sincere gratitude to the Inter-American Development Bank for their continued partnership and support to empower women through this mentorship programme.
I would also like to thank our class of mentees. Thank you for recognizing the importance of this programme and choosing to participate this year.
And to our mentors, some of whom, I understand was part of our distinguished list of speakers at our recent Women's Leadership Conference, and others who were part of last year's Mentorship class. Thank you once more for offering your knowledge and wisdom to help support younger women in their future career prospects.
We often hear about the barriers preventing women from progressing and claiming success in their chosen careers and throughout every aspect of their lives. Rather than dwelling on the problems, AMCHAM T&T would like to shift the focus on the solutions.
The goal should always be to remove these existing barriers with more opportunities so that we are empowering both women and men. At AMCHAM T&T, we believe a diverse workplace and society brings about better outcomes for everyone.
Ultimately, this is what we are hoping to both inspire and achieve with this Mentorship Programme. We aren't saying that this is the only answer to some of these issues, but it is one small step we can take to provide the solutions we need.
You might ask how is this possible.
The answers are never easy or straightforward. But together we can counteract these hidden barriers by making conscious decisions every day to simply show up and offer support, wherever we can.
We can change the rules of the game and create a better game plan where we can ALL succeed, together.
For this to happen, as women, we must seek each other's interests. That means reinforcing greater collaboration to eliminate the competition that pits women against each other, and by extension, all women against men.
When we challenge the status quo we are essentially raising the bar for all women to have clearer and easier paths to reach their fullest potential in life. We can achieve this by helping our sisters to have a different vision for their lives, empowering them to continuously strive for better instead of settling for less, and by current leaders leaving a legacy of support and allyship that will continue to uplift women.
Don't ever forget that we are always stronger when we join forces and come together.
Women have the power to achieve this, but we can't do it alone. This is why lifting barriers and reducing inequalities is a job for EVERYONE. Therefore, we are going to need more men to stand in solidarity with women so that our world becomes a lot more inclusive, a lot more diverse, and ultimately, safer for everyone.
That’s why we hope to see more companies investing in mentorship programmes to foster greater diversity and inclusion in the workplace, strengthen company culture, and improve employee engagement. Companies that invest in mentorship will see the benefits of higher productivity, fewer turnover rates, better succession planning, and increase profits. Ultimately, it comes down to doing the right thing!
Mentorship also provides a platform that allows women to develop their leadership skills, increase their self-confidence, build their social capital, and take ownership of their own personal and professional development. At AMCHAM T&T and the IDB, we see the value in creating these opportunities for women to grow and succeed which is why this programme is a top priority for us.
I can guarantee you that the mentorship journey will pose some challenges and disruptions. It will make you a little uncomfortable at times as you unlearn some of the old and familiar patterns that have prevented your growth and development. But through the careful direction of your mentors, they will gentle guide you away from those restrictive fears and doubts to a place of greater courage and confidence.
And because of this, I can assure you that the outcomes you stand to gain will far outweigh the struggles and discomfort you may experience. Remember nothing worthy comes easy. But with your dedication and commitment to stand strong and face your fears you will soon realise that the only limitations that exist are the limitations you set for yourself.
So, I encourage you to absorb the valuable advice and counsel from your mentors. Let their knowledge and wisdom force you to rethink so many of your beliefs and attitudes. Let it motivate you to accept new challenges that once posed so much fear and anxiety. And don't be afraid to challenge your mentors as well. Growth is a continuous journey and no one person is better than the other or knows everything. So, offer your ideas and suggestions freely to build a strong relationship with your mentors where you are both learning and growing with each other.
This programme holds the promise for all of this, but you will only realize it if you first BELIEVE it. Your decision to register for this programme coupled with your attendance today already shows a promising first step to achieving these rewards.
I wish you much success as you begin this enriching journey.
Before I close, I want to once more thank all our mentors who have stepped up to offer support and solidarity with women to help them stand firm in their worth and value. Thank you for your willingness and enthusiasm to be part of this year's programme.
And finally, thank you to the IDB for showing continuous support and leadership in this programme, and for these issues.
An AMCHAM T&T WEBINAR
Thank you for joining us for today's Webinar: Waste Management: What You Need To Know? hosted by AMCHAM T&T and the Environmental Management Agency (EMA).
I am Melissa Pierre – Trade and Policy Specialist at AMCHAM T&T.
Do you understand your Responsibilities Under THE WASTE MANAGEMENT RULES, 2021 AND THE WASTE MANAGEMENT (FEES) REGULATIONS, 2021 that recently came into effect on May 31st?
What do these new rules mean to you and your companies?
These are a few of the questions that we are going to be addressing in today’s session. The hope is that you would leave today with much-needed clarity and more straightforward answers to any questions or concerns you may have about these new laws.
To help us with this, we are delighted to have our partners at the Environmental Management Authority who will be joining us today to shed some light on the new laws.
As you are already aware, these rules strive to support the environmentally sound management of waste while helping to reduce waste pollution in Trinidad and Tobago. At AMCHAM T&T, we see these new laws as representing a bright and positive step forward in our country’s sustainable environmental development agenda.
With the successful passage of these two pieces of legislation, AMCHAM T&T would like to congratulate the Environmental Management Authority (EMA), the Ministry of Planning and Development, and the Government of Trinidad and Tobago for moving towards creating a strong regulatory and legislative environment to protect and preserve the country’s natural environment.
We also applaud these agencies for their hard work and unwavering commitment to advancing the local environmental development agenda. At AMCHAM T&T we see measures such as these strengthening T&T’s position to meet the targets outlined in the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – especially SDG 12 which talks about responsible consumption and production around how the management of our shared natural resources and disposal of toxic waste and pollutants are treated.
With over twenty-five years behind us advocating for efficient HSE policies to keep employees safe in the workplace and measures to protect and preserve our environment, you can understand why these issues are a matter of priority and importance for us at AMCHAM T&T.
Our HSE committee – one of the largest, and dare I say, BEST, in the region is made up of stakeholders representing over 40 local and multinational companies operating in T&T. These are professionals who are driven by a strong desire to ensure that we are doing everything possible to safeguard people and simultaneously protect our environment while we perform our jobs and manage our companies. Hence, why AMCHAM T&T fully supports this legislation which provides a powerful safety net over our environment from hazardous and non-hazardous waste by making sure the treatment, recovery or disposal of waste is done in accordance with the law.
We know this issue is not localized only to our nation or our region. The burden is not only placed on our people. Waste Management is a global concern that poses alarming threats to human health and the environment everywhere. Therefore, the responsibility to act and show leadership on this very real global threat lies in the hands of every individual, every business, and every nation.
It remains our collective duty to save our environment from the toxic effects of inorganic and biodegradable elements present in waste which can cause water contamination, soil erosion and air contamination.
It is also our collective duty to ensure that waste is recycled and managed efficiently so that it does not end up in landfills and oceans and poses a threat to both human health and marine life.
And we have a responsibility to be law-abiding citizens and operate in accordance with the law while we manage our businesses. Therefore, we must make every effort to both understand and comply with the rules outlined in these laws.
However, if there is uncertainty about the new rules, we will not achieve full compliance. So, while AMCHAM T&T fully supports the implementation of these laws in principle, we are also seeking further clarification on specific issues outlined in the legislature which is why today’s session is so important.
We would like clarification on how the fees are calculated for continuous generation of liquid waste (oily water) and for discrete solid waste (scrap metals)?
Also, while we agree with the polluter must pay principle, we note the exorbitant fees imposed on SMEs. Will consideration be given to SMEs who may not have the income to supplement the cost of the permit?
We are also concerned that the current suite of insurances applicable to businesses in T&T is not adequate to cover compensation for clean-up and restoration if improper waste management practices are not adhered to, or in the event, an accident occurs.
How is the EMA planning to engage the Insurance Sector concerning coverage for Indemnity Insurance for companies involved in the generation and handling of hazardous wastes?
Also, we are seeking further guidance concerning if the waste has properties that make it fall under more than one waste code in Schedule 1. Companies will require clarification on these issues and others so that compliance is met, and we achieved our objectives.
AMCHAM T&T has enjoyed a very collaborative and engaging working relationship with the EMA over the years. We are very grateful for the partnership today to host this educational webinar around the waste management rules and fees. We hope today’s session will address the concerns raise and serve to make the wider private sector more aware of the legislation, and what is expected of them to achieve compliance.
Good morning everyone, and thank you for joining us today.
I am Nirad Tewarie, CEO of AMCHAM T&T and it is my great honor to welcome you to the launch of the AMCHAM T&T-Republic Bank - Tech Hub Islands Summit (t.h.i.s.) 2022. I take great pleasure to announce that we will be returning to hosting THIS in person in July!
Four years ago, AMCHAM T&T stepped outside our comfort zone to embark on a journey that would see us transform who we are as a business chamber and how we serve our members. We have long prided ourselves as being the chamber that is willing to take risks, willing to try new things, and willing to push and innovate through “change in action”.
Understanding the importance of digital transformation to our economy, six years ago we launched our digital transformation committee. The ultimate goal of that committee is to undertake initiatives to drive digital transformation in T&T.
One such initiative was the creation of the Tech Hub Islands Summit – THIS. THIS is designed to show practically what can be done by the private sector to accelerate our digital transformation. THIS was established to showcase public sector digital transformation initiatives and opportunities using examples from here in T&T and around the globe. THIS was created to provide a meeting place for traditional businesses and startups. Solution providers and those who require assistance to solve their tech-related problems.
Our firm belief at AMCHAM T&T is that T&T can become a centre of excellence, a significant node in the global tech ecosystem.
With that will come better services for citizens and consumers, export-led growth, more resilient businesses, more opportunities for our citizens to find meaningful work in T&T and an overall more attractive place to live work and play.
In the four years since we held the first THIS, we all lived through the effects of the pandemic. As we emerge in the post-pandemic phase, we can’t seek to recreate life as it was. We have to do better.
Last year we asked you to use technology in a way that takes us beyond the “now” problems so that we can diagnose, deploy and solve for what’s beyond. This year we will focus on how organizations -private and public sector – have realized real tangible benefits from doing just that – using technology to solve those problems AND taking us closer to realising this world we are envisioning.
We are calling this “Change in Action” which is the official theme for this year’s Tech Hub Islands Summit
t.h.i.s.2022 will see us once more promoting the adoption of technology and digital transformation to drive economic growth and development while challenging the visions we have for our future. But we will do it differently. This year we are highlighting success stories about how technology can underpin a more fulfilling, productive and profitable way of life by engaging with the innovators and disruptors who are at the forefront of the Fourth Industrial Revolution wave. You would recall that our 2019 THIS there was the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
We will hear testimonies of how accessing technological solutions have improved business processes and customer experience to ensure continued success and survival. We will engage in important discussions around building the local Fintech Industry and Financial Inclusion, developing futureproof digital infrastructure and making T&T a real player in the global tech supply chain.
We will also assess how technology is currently creating a new world with the latest trends around Web3, the Metaverse, digital currencies and Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs). What are they? Trends or fads? And should we get involved or press the ignore button?
And we will learn from the global tech giants to help us implement practical tech solutions to realise digital transformation in the public sector while building on the local initiatives that are currently underway.
The past two years have been challenging but many exciting things are happening all around. Change through digital adoption is rapidly transforming our lives and creating new pathways for progress and success. Doubt, resistance and hesitation cannot fuel our actions to a standstill. We must keep moving. We must keep adopting and adapting. It is time to go beyond dreaming and talking. Many are already seeing the results of “change in action”.
Joining us live and in-person to help tell these stories are:
• IBM’s Chief Innovation Officer Emeritus, Dr Bernard S. Meyerson,
• Global Lead for Infrastructure Modernization in Google Cloud’s Solutions Engineering organisation, David White,
• Senior Vice President & General Manager, Training & Certification of the Linux Foundation, Clyde Sepersad.
These are just three of the major speakers who will headline a dynamic lineup of local and international speakers who are doing amazing and innovative things in the tech world at t.h.i.s.2022.
We are happy to have t.h.i.s.2022 return to an in-person Conference and Exhibition on July 6th – 8th, 2022 at the Hyatt Regency. To maximise our audience and advocacy reach on these important topics, t.h.i.s.2022 will be a hybrid event with the option to stream the summit and participate in a virtual exhibition on our virtual platform at techislands.net.
We are so delighted to welcome back our Title Sponsor: Republic Bank Limited who reaffirm their commitment to this important venture by signing a three-year sponsorship contract to return as the event’s Official Title Sponsor. We would also like to thank our Platinum Sponsors: PwC, Digicel Business, Eximbank and IDB for their continued support. We are extremely grateful to our sponsors who enable us to do all the things we do and attract the kind of speakers that we have lined up at this year’s conference. In the coming weeks, we will be announcing the names of those speakers so we ask that you stay connected to us on our social media platforms and via our official media releases for more information on this.
Technology is the currency that will drive our economic prospects for the future. We must keep investing in technology as we continue to map out a plan that will help us generate the expected growth and sustainability that will be so vital to our survival and competitiveness in this ever-evolving world. We know that t.h.i.s.2022 will once more spark great dialogue, worthwhile partnerships and actions that will help us realize the benefits of the "Change In Action" needed to develop the local tech ecosystem right here in T&T. So, we look forward to your support and participation.
But a conference alone will not be the catalyst of change. In the past four years, we have worked with a team of Googlers to host the BreakbeatCode hackathon – which teaches coding through music – for 50 young people in T&T. We expect to do another such hackathon this year to be followed by a longer 12-week course for more intense coding training.
With the support of the IDB, we are currently finalising a digital skills gap study to identify the areas of need to support the growth of the local tech industry of which I spoke. We hope that this study will guide the development of training programmes to support the growth of local firms and investor firms as the tech sector expands in T&T.
We hosted a tech trade mission with the Canadian High Commission in which local and Canadian firms were able to connect and explore business partnerships.
Next week, we will present a paper to the Government on opportunities that could be derived from a National Nearshoring Strategy, starting with a focus on IT Enabled Services. This technical work was done by our Digital Transformation Committee and Secretariat.
Next week we also intend to share with members some cyber-security guidelines, which are currently being finalised by our Security Committee.
The last two initiatives are examples of how AMCHAM T&T members work together and learn from one another to promote national and business objectives.
We have also introduced a new category of membership in AMCHAM T&T for startup and early-stage companies so that we build a community of entrepreneurs within our organisation to ensure that the ecosystem of innovation and dynamism that we want to see is nurtured and supported.
All of these, of course, compliment the many policy recommendations that we make on an annual and ad hoc basis, many of which have found their way into official government policy. So, we are working. We are building. Join us in this effort as we do our part to make T&T the kind of vibrant, dynamic, future-proof society that we all desire.
As I conclude, let me remind you to check out the official t.h.i.s.2022 Conference Website at www.techislands.net. There, you will find all the information about our speakers, sponsors, agenda, sessions, topics, registration details and much more.
Thank you and we hope to see you at t.h.i.s.2022!
Thank you for joining us this morning. As we gear up for AMCHAM T&T’s HSSE Conference later this year, this is the first Pre-Conference Webinar that we are hosting, and it is on Crisis Communications – What You Need to Know? I am Toni Sirju-Ramnarine – President of AMCHAM T&T.
I want to begin by thanking our sponsors: Title Sponsor- Atlantic, Platinum Sponsor – The National Gas Company of Trinidad and Tobago and our Gold Sponsor – Point Lisas Nitrogen Limited for their support to host today’s Webinar.
Today’s session is meant to provide vital information about the necessity for organisations to have an effective crisis communications strategy. As a responsible organisation, AMCHAM T&T and our speakers today will not be making any announcements or inferences on any active investigations and will appreciate your understanding on this matter. Therefore, we ask that you refrain from asking questions about ongoing investigations.
Now let’s talk about crises. These are often unexpected, unwanted, and unpleasant, and while many organisations do focus on conducting effective risk assessments to prevent tragedies and incidents from occurring, we need to recognise that crises do happen. They may not happen with great frequency but that doesn’t mean we don’t invest in the training and resources for events that are unexpected and unpredictable. That means effective leadership especially in today’s world requires preparing for the unforeseen and unpredictable. Let’s face it, we have spent the greater part of the past two years doing just that!
And so, because all organisations are vulnerable to crises, it means every organisation today must make crisis management planning a major part of its operations. This includes looking at the prevention, preparation, and training strategies that detail what is to be done during the pre-crisis stage followed by managing the response to the crisis as it is unfolding in real-time, and then finally seeking better strategies to prepare for the next crisis while fulfilling the commitments made during the crisis phase.
Part of this preparation has to do with how we communicate BEFORE, DURING, and AFTER a crisis to ensure that the company’s integrity, reputation, brand, and stakeholder relations remain intact. And in stakeholders I include, not only its external stakeholders, but very importantly its own employees as well.
This is what today’s session is about. It’s important to implement the necessary incident management plans and policies to prevent and simultaneously prepare for a crisis which includes having these conversations to respond to a crisis because so much of our world is defined by:
• how we communicate
• what is communicated
• at what point do we communicate
• why do we communicate
• And to whom we are communicating
These are all fundamental questions and concerns we must have when responding to any situation that demands answers where the information is limited, inconsistent or uncertain. However, it is especially during these times that we must increase our outreach to our public to be transparent, to provide guidance, and very importantly, to offer support and sympathy.
During these times, our words and actions can be the equivalent of keeping people safe or increasing the threat.
But what should be the message in the age of social media and the internet where news goes viral instantly. This is what we are here to ask and answer. Inaction and failure to respond will not cut it in an age where accountability is demanded from the public. Ultimately, this is what will build organisational trust and loyalty in the long run.
Now we have to acknowledge that today, the biggest change we have witnessed in crisis management is the revolution of social media. We should never underestimate the voice of the public or fail to accept that they won’t care. Any incident involving injury or fatality shows how quickly the public can move from being engaged to enraged. It is during these heightened periods of a crisis that the public feels most empowered to voice their opinions, propagate rumours and experiences, and cast judgement in a highly visible manner that can reach millions around the world.
Finally, I want to add, that while the message is important, so too must be the messenger. Therefore, it is so important to have effective spokesperson training in any crisis communications plan. These are the people who will deliver your message with the proper media relations training and skills to provide key information that debunks rumours and false theories with concrete facts and evidence that enlightens and comforts.
Today our distinguished panel of experts will provide more insight and information on these points. They will share the strategies to effectively handle crises. I hope that after today’s sessions more companies see the value to invest more readily in this so that they are better prepared to handle these unfortunate incidents and communicate effectively with their stakeholders and wider public.
Welcome to AMCHAM T&T’s 8th Women’s Leadership Conference and thank you for joining us virtually today as we seek to celebrate and elevate the voices of women in our society and around the world.
AMCHAM T&T has proudly hosted this conference every year in commemoration of International Women’s Day because we believe that by supporting and highlighting the barriers to the progress of women, we are doing our part towards creating a gender-equal world. Not only does this make good economic sense, but, more importantly, it is the right thing to do.
Before I go further, I want to take a moment to acknowledge this year’s exceptional and accomplished speakers. Each offers a wealth of knowledge and experience that I am sure will provide insights into many of the problems that hinder women’s progress and growth in society.
I also want to thank the companies and NGOs that are joining us today for all the work they have done to bring increased awareness to these issues and for their sponsorship and participation in this year's conference.
Today a lot of our conversations will be centred around this year’s IWD theme: “Break The Bias”. This refers to the many individual and institutional challenges that place a limit on the progress women can make, and the factors that restrict their right to fairness, justice, and equality in society.
Despite the gains we have made in recent years, there is still so much more work that needs to be done. Right now, issues such as the pandemic, climate change, and geopolitical conflicts are undermining the progress women have made and threatening their lives and livelihoods around the world.
Women on the frontlines of the pandemic have faced disproportionate impacts in employment, education, healthcare, and gender-based violence.
Women on the frontlines of climate change impacts face an increased risk of extreme poverty.
Women on the frontlines of escalating global tensions are displaced, disinherited, and impoverished as either widows or refugees and are easy targets for crimes such as rape, sexual torture, and sexual exploitation.
As women, we know these issues very well because this has been our reflection both in the rearview mirror as well as the vision we have for our futures every time we choose to speak up, challenge, and demand better for our lives.
The question is how are we going to achieve this?
Today we are asked to Break The Bias. So often when we are dealing with problems with marginalized groups, we fail to acknowledge their existence or their problems. We must change this! Therefore,
Breaking the Bias means rooting out negative stereotypes and prejudices against women.
Breaking the Bias means calling out sexism, protecting women from gender-based violence, and ending discrimination by both men and women.
Breaking the Bias means investing in diversity policies to create more inclusive and equitable spaces.
Breaking the Bias means reflecting on what may be our own unconscious bias and examining how this manifests so that we can prevent it from reoccurring.
Breaking the Bias means having honest conversations about these issues and working together to create a gender-equal world. And that is what today’s conference is all about.
Perhaps a starting point would be to look at how we address gender-based violence in our society. If the 1,757 cases of domestic violence reported by the Victim and Witness Support Unit during the period January 2020 to November 2021 can be used an an indicator – it tells us that this is a problem for us all. More than likely, we all know someone who is a victim of gender-based violence.
With one case being too many, we need to take ownership of this problem. No longer must this be seen as a job only for law enforcement and NGOs. Here’s where the private sector can lead.
AMCHAM T&T’s Anti-Gender Based Violence Initiative with our partners at the Institute for Gender and Development Studies (IGDS) and the Coalition Against Domestic Violence (CADV) is an initiative that seeks to prevent Gender Based Violence and abuse in the workplace by helping companies develop a workplace policy that supports employees who are survivors of Gender Based Violence. The initiative has proven worthwhile with
• 95% of participants indicating that the prevalence of violence against women affects workplace productivity and,
• 66% said they wanted their companies to do more to address gender-based violence against women in the workplace.
Yet, so far participation rates have been disappointing. We need more companies to step up and take the lead on this very important issue. Get in contact with us and let’s bring an end to Gender Based Violence!
Leadership on this issue from the private sector can also begin with addressing our workplace culture and strategy at tackling violence and harassment. We should also ensure we have clear reporting procedures and grievance mechanisms to take action when needed.
Additional steps would require us to align anti-Gender Based Violence policies with our core business objectives to change societal norms and behaviours on gender-based violence, sexual harassment and other unacceptable behavious.
That means stopping the sexualization and objectification of women in the workplace. This is where men can lead by holding each other accountable. When sexism occurs: See It, Name It, Stop It! It’s that simple!
Ultimately, what all of this comes down to is investing in better diversity and inclusion policies since so much of the disparity that women face are experienced in the workplace. It begins in our recruitment and hiring processes and goes all the way to the opportunities, or lack thereof, for the promotion and advancement of women. The limited options we provide send the message that women are inferior, undeserving, and powerless. Perhaps that’s why 50% or half of the total companies currently listed on the T&T Stock Exchange have a board consisting of less than 25% female directors. This has to change.
This is 2022! Surely you know competent women who can serve on boards. If you don’t, ask around. We can help. After all, there are more women currently on the AMCHAM T&T Board than men - all of whom are extremely competent.
But it’s not just about creating a space at the table and making women feel they should be grateful for this seat. It’s about investing in women’s potential that creates more opportunities. It’s about placing value on their contributions. So let’s look forward to seeing more of our country’s boards being comprised of multiple women and not just the token one!
Now is the time to lead if we really want to break the bias. The government has made progress through recent amendments to the Domestic Violence (Amendment) Act, the creation of the Gender-Based Violence Unit (GBVU) in the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service and through ongoing debates to amend the Sexual Offences Act which will widen protections for women who are victims of digital-based offenses.
In this context of widening social and economic inequalities, we need to urge governments to use budgets as a tool to achieve social justice objectives concurrently with economic objectives. Therefore, we can promote gender equality by incorporating a gender perspective at all levels of our budgetary process, including restructuring revenues and expenditures. These objectives must be clearly defined and measurable with reporting on progress year on year. Imagine if we were doing this all along. We would have already started to enforce provisions that cater to the experience of women’s and men’s lives in national budgets to advance gender equity, rather than reinforce existing inequalities.
I am sure our expert speakers will be covering these issues in their discussions later today. Conferences like this are necessary but it’s just a start. What we need is a more sustained and coordinated effort by all interest groups to recognize that these problems not only exist but to acknowledge that they leave many victims.
So, let’s take what we have learned today back to our offices and to our leaders and let’s work together to create a gender-equal world that values, uplifts, and respects both women and men.
Let’s redefine leadership to make it more welcoming to more voices, more opinions, and more opportunities.
Let’s promote greater diversity and inclusion to fulfil the promise of equality.
Let’s celebrate our distinct differences so that we choose love over hate every time
Let’s break the bias to protect the freedoms and human rights of all our citizens.
I thank you very much and I really hope you enjoy and gain value out of today’s conference.
Hi everyone. I’m so happy to be here this morning for what is now Scotiabank’s 8th year of collaborating with AMCHAM on this fantastic Women’s Leadership Conference.
I am proud that we continue to work with AMCHAM on this initiative. We’re here today to talk about Breaking the Bias. Bias impacts women, especially in the workplace and it’s important that we do what we can to raise awareness and dismantle those biases that inhibit advancements for women.
Bias includes the stereotypes and opinions which either consciously or unconsciously influence how we treat our co-workers, subordinates, associates and just about anyone we interact with.
While we know it’s morally wrong to treat someone differently based on prejudice it’s often impossible to avoid bias. No matter how unbiased we think we are, we may have subconscious negative opinions about people who are outside our group - the more exposed we are to groups of people, the less likely we are to feel prejudiced against others. Bias leads us to gravitate toward people who are like ourselves in terms of gender, race, age, income, personality type or some other factor.
Two years into the pandemic, shows us that we’re in a moment of crisis for women. Millions of women globally have been driven out of the workforce by Covid-19. Many more are struggling with burnout and considering downshifting their careers or leaving their jobs.
To avoid unwinding years of progress toward gender equality, companies need to take actions to support women in the workplace. Combating the biases women face at work is critical to getting this right.
Almost three in four women experience bias at work, and those who do are more likely to leave Women of color, LGBTQ+ women, and women with disabilities face more acute biases. Yet only one in three employees, including managers, challenges biased behavior when they see it.
Knowing that bias exists isn’t enough. We need to act.
Having women and other diverse voices in leadership roles is good for business and we, as business leaders, are responsible for working towards positive change. As an executive with years of experience leading international teams, I can share the following ideas when it comes to fighting bias:
1. Examine your own unconscious biases. Once we recognize our own biases — yes, we all have them! — we can address the reasons behind them and make conscientious behavioral change.
You can do this by striving to surround yourself with people who hold opposing points of view. Being challenged, rather than having every member of your team agree with you all the time is good; it often leads to more productive discussions and innovative solutions.
2. Speak up, or nothing will ever change. If every manager and employee were to speak up every time, they encountered bias in the workplace, we would have reached that elusive tipping point and effected lasting change long ago.
3. Encourage others to speak up. This may be the most important point of all. No matter what type of bias your team or organization may encounter, the key is meeting a critical mass of supporters. We also need male allies who understand how vital unbiased behaviors are to the success of the organization. Strengthening your relationships with both male and female leaders will help you build a solid team committed to speaking up and effecting lasting change.
As I just mentioned - allyship is key in breaking or fighting biasness. We need to come together to be active allies to women.
We can all help to advance a culture of inclusion by taking intentional, positive action to promote and support a group we may not necessarily be a part of.
Everyone deserves to bring their whole selves to work and thrive in an environment that is safe, inclusive and reflective of all communities.
EVERYONE can be an ally, and everyone can benefit from allyship. By dedicating yourself to education and action, we can learn how to stand up for our colleagues and to take accountability as strong and effective allies.
When we advocate for each other, we rise together.
I am proud to be a part of an organisation that truly values diversity and equality in the workplace. Terms such as ‘breaking the bias’ and ‘allyship’ are everyday actions for us and form a significant part of how we lead.
We know that the most important investment is the one we make in our people. We unlock our employees’ potential through bias-free practices and one set of inclusive values across Scotiabank.
Scotiabank has many initiatives, including Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) that operate globally advancing diversity and inclusion mandates. Members are committed to educating and empowering women by supporting their personal and professional growth.
And our dedicated action has resulted in progress:
We’ve also made some bold moves in recent times in advancing our diversity and inclusion agenda:
Through employee feedback, 94% of our employees believe that the Bank is building and supporting an inclusive workforce.
I challenge all business leaders to take active steps to strengthen our organizations through diversity, drive innovation through our differences and constructive discussion, and to build a more inclusive culture by extending opportunities to all who are qualified. If a majority of people become committed to making small changes around this important issue, the implications are limitless.
Thank you for your time. I hope you enjoy the rest of the Conference and take away some great insights to help you make your own bold moves while we continue to Break the Bias and Ally On.
bpTT is pleased to continue its support for Amcham’s Women’s conference. This event has grown to become a valuable forum to discuss gender parity issues and, more importantly, to create that link between global trends and insights and what we can do to address issues specific to Trinidad and Tobago.
I would like to congratulate the organizers for continuing to deliver a conference that is timely as well as thought-provoking. I am particularly captivated by the first discussion which looks at how the pandemic has highlighted the inequality that exists in the workplace and wider society.
I have spent the last 20+ years working in the human resources profession– now called people and culture at bp. I am also a wife, a mother of fifteen-year-old twin girls and in my profession, I lead a talented team of people comprised of mostly female leaders and professionals. Like everyone joining us this morning, I have grappled with the challenges brought about by the pandemic, both at an organizational and personal level and I look forward to learning how we can use our experiences over the past two years to address gender issues that have intensified because of the pandemic and those that continue to maturate.
This conference is part of a wider group of activities across the globe to mark International
Women’s Day. It is important to remember that fact because none of us – as parents,
employees, leaders, or corporate citizens – can confront gender issues individually or in silos.
We must rely on the support of the wider global and local ecosystem.
How do we ensure that we are aligned in our approach?
Organizations are crucial.
Organizations set the framework, the culture or the tone for employees or members as in the case of Amcham.
Using my organization as an example, bp’s sustainability aim14, puts bp’s purpose into action, provides a frame and governs how we respond to diversity, equity and inclusion. As part of bp’s purpose to “Improve people’s lives,” Aim 14 sets out that bp will increase diversity, equity and inclusion for our workforce, customers, and suppliers.
In fact, our new gender ambition strives for bp to be a company where gender balance is evident. To fulfil this ambition, our aim is to have by 2025 at least equal numbers of women as men in our 120 most senior leadership roles and 40% of women in the next level of leadership.
By 2030 at the very latest, we aim to have women filling at least half of our most senior
leadership roles and 40% at every other level of the company. Today, I am proud to share that 6 out of 11 of our most senior leaders at bp are women.
This brings me to our discussion today. This year’s International Women’s Day theme is
‘breaking the bias’.
Bias, if left unchecked, robs us of true equity. It leads to exclusion and can erode the prosperity of organizations and societies as a whole.
The targets mentioned previously represent more than numbers. They represent our purpose – To re-imagine energy for people and planet. Or to put it another way, advancing our diversity, equity and inclusion agenda is a key strategic lever to securing a better future for everyone who works with bp.
The organization creates the frame and the expectations at a wider level, but confronting and breaking bias needs to start from within.
That is why bias can be an uncomfortable topic. When the issue of bias comes up, we are
often forced to question others.
I acknowledge that we must confront bias at a structural level, and I am pleased to see this
topic planned for session two.
However, we need to challenge the underlying thought processes.
We need to look within.
Ask yourself – what are my biases? Do they affect my performance or the corporate culture or the prosperity of our country?
How are we, as professionals, enabling ourselves and others to be aware of bias?
Are we enabling the biases that exist?
In the words of this year’s theme, how can we ‘break the bias’?
It brings me pleasure that this year’s theme does not ask a question but sets us in motion.
‘Breaking the Bias’ is not about ‘if’ but ‘how.’!
How do we break the bias? Dialogue is crucial.
Sessions and exchanges like these help us to push boundaries. Dialogue is always important in exploring and confronting issues.
This is where I believe bpTT has done well. Our gender-focused panel discussions include men as participants and panelists. This helps to broaden the conversation. We see men as allies in the discussion rather than obstacles.
Discussion is a start, but we need more...
Discussion alone is not enough to move the needle, however. To break the bias, we need to go further:
I trust that you will hold us to account to deliver these bold statements and targets. Through the course of our discussions, I trust that you will take bold actions, you will set targets and you will be the change that we all want to see. I trust that we will all hold each other accountable. It is incumbent on all of us to help drive societal progress. Together we have an important role to play. Together we can evolve the narrative on gender equity.
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