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  • 26 Jun 2022 6:04 PM | Kennedy Maraj (Administrator)

    LINKAGE Q1 (2022) - BREAK THE BIAS

    PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE

    BREAK THE BIAS 

    By Toni Sirju-Ramnarine - President of AMCHAM T&T

    The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day has asked us to Break The Bias by speaking out on gender bias, discrimination, and stereotypes in our world. There is no doubt that these issues have presented major hurdles for women to progress and succeed in their careers and across all aspects of society.

    The time has come for us to take decisive action to not only level the playing field but to ensure that we are making it easier for the girls and women who are coming up behind us to succeed. This is a job for everyone. So, breaking the bias isn’t just about levelling blame to right past wrongs but finding solutions that will help create a more diverse and equitable world for both women and men.

    That’s why our Women’s Leadership Conference is such a vital platform to empower women because we understand that women’s rights are everyone’s responsibility – hence why the Conference every year invites both women and men into the conversation. I am grateful to each of our speakers for their courage and strength to share their personal stories of success and failure with our audience, especially our Feature Speaker, U.S. Justice G. Helen Whitener of the Washington Supreme Court who reminded us that in order to embrace and protect vulnerable groups from exclusion, we all have a responsibility to each other to be truly inclusive at all times.

    So how can we break the bias and create a more gender-equal world to empower women and girls? We can create this world by checking our biases. Every day we walk around with various stereotypes and prejudices that influence our beliefs and judgment of our world

    Eliminating bias means educating ourselves about our biases because many times, these are unconscious biases that both men and women have about gender. Therefore, we must constantly reflect on these negative ideas, stereotypes and prejudices so that we can strive to change and practice mindfulness when making decisions. When we make the conscious effort to do this, we are creating a world full of better ideas, more innovation, and greater inclusivity among our peers. We are also encouraging more women to share their perspectives especially when they feel acknowledged and safe so that better decisions can be made to achieve better results.

    Currently, half of the total companies listed on the T&T Stock Exchange have less than 25% female directors sitting on their boards. If this statistic is to be used as an indicator, it shows that a lot of work still needs to be done before we can boast about gender equity in the workplace. The problem has always been getting more women into the workplace and making sure there is a pathway for them to advance their careers.

    Looking at the way we advertise jobs and avoiding gender bias in job descriptions is one way we can empower women to get them in the workplace. Job descriptions should encourage gender-neutral job titles or language, show our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, evaluate the requirements of the job by only listing the skills needed, allow opportunities for training and mentorship, and state the salary for the position being advertised.

    The gender pay gap is still a big issue for women working in many industries even in 2022. We must ask ourselves how can we change this? We know that pay equity is essential for organisations because it is a sound reflection of their leadership on issues related to fairness and inclusivity in the workplace. Once pay equity is achieved, employers usually see better team morale, higher employee engagement, and overall job satisfaction. We can break the bias on the gender pay gap by making salaries transparent, promoting training to encourage easier advancement and opportunities for all employees, expanding paid family and medical leave, increasing access to child care, implementing fair scheduling practices, and of course, checking our implicit biases around the hiring and promoting processes.

    There is a lot more we must do to break the bias that limits women and girls from reaching their full potential in life. While the solutions listed above are the starting blocks to creating change, breaking the bias on these obstacles requires everyone to become involved by addressing our own implicit or unconscious bias to affect real and sustainable change around these issues. Therefore, it’s an everyday, on-going deliberate act we must observe to right the wrongs we unconsciously perpetuate and promote that lead to division and inequality. I hope we see more men and women committed to breaking the bias and advocating for gender equity both in the present and the future so that achieving equality for women doesn't remain "the last unfinished business of the 21st century".

    In this issue of Linkage, we will be addressing some of these issues and identifying how we can break the bias so that we are not just empowering women but encouraging men to become the agents of change that will help us to achieve gender equity in our world. I hope you enjoy this issue.



  • 26 Jun 2022 5:02 PM | Kennedy Maraj (Administrator)

    LINKAGE Q1 (2022) - BREAK THE BIAS

    CEO's MESSAGE
    BREAK THE BIAS

    There are many titles we hold in life that say something about who we are and how we are viewed by the world. Currently, besides being a CEO, a business leader, and an advocate for various causes, I am also a responsible citizen, devoted husband and father, and hopefully a role model to my kids.

    I am immensely proud of all these titles and the message each conveys about my identity as a man in this world. I take pride in making sure I am doing everything possible to live up to the expectations these titles hold. Admittedly, sometimes I fall short but mostly I am always striving to learn from my mistakes and to do better the next time. That’s why I believe it’s important for each of us to become better partners and allies in creating a more equitable world for every citizen – women and men, girls and boys and those who identify differently.

    MY MESSAGE TO MEN

    Supporting women begins with actually listening to what women are trying to say to us and teaching us. So often when we hear about issues affecting women, we tend to ignore them, or we turn into superman trying to “save the day”. Clearly, that’s not what we should be doing. We need to amplify women’s voices by acknowledging their experiences and allowing them to be the author of their own lives. Our role should then be to listen, to learn, and to educate our sons and other men about these issues in a way that fosters trust and respect.

    Reflecting on our own power and privilege as men offers another vital lesson to men. Recognising that certain opportunities were influenced largely by our gender will help teach self-awareness that can lead to understanding and empathy for the challenges that women face. This goes even beyond gender because we must acknowledge how different intersecting identities such as race, class, sexual orientation, religion, and ability are shaping the lived experiences of different individuals resulting in vastly different outcomes than our own.

    Once we have made this connection, it’s now our responsibility to challenge the gender bias, discrimination and stereotypes that are reinforcing many levels of hate and prejudice in our world. As men, we can challenge sexism, misogyny, racism, and homophobia and speak up when we hear discriminatory language. We can hold each other accountable. We can see it, name it, stop it! We can also advocate for more inclusive policies in the workplace that will advance greater opportunities for women to be heard, seen, and valued. We must also work hard to close the gender pay gap, check our implicit bias when we are hiring and promoting employees, and create safer places for more women to succeed and grow.

    All of this also extends to the home where the division of labor must be equal. Many women often report having their careers sidelined because of the disproportionate responsibilities associated with household labour, childcare, and all the invisible work they do that keeps the household functioning smoothly. Apart from taking on our full share of housework and childcare responsibilities, men can also advocate for better work-life balance measures at the workplace such as flexi-work policies. This can greatly alleviate the burden on women and help champion better opportunities for them to succeed both in the workplace and at home.

    Finally, abuse and violence cannot be ignored. We must take responsibility for our actions based on the alarming statistics of women who have reported being both victims and survivors of domestic abuse, sexual assault, and sexual harassment. We must teach men to lead with empathy and compassion. We need to normalise men showing emotions in a non-aggressive manner and we need more men to seek support for their hurt and pain so that we end toxic masculinity.

    None of this will change if we aren’t supporting women at every level of our society. That means doing what we can to proactively break the bias that prevents women from ascending to positions of power. That’s what I try to do in my life as a father, a husband, a leader, a boss and as a man! That’s what I hope we all commit to doing in the future so that we can break the bias around all of these issues.

    In this issue of Linkage, we hope to challenge your beliefs on these issues to increase support for women and girls to succeed in life. I hope you enjoy the articles, and we look forward to your commitment to creating a more gender-equitable world for everyone.


  • 26 Jun 2022 4:49 PM | Kennedy Maraj (Administrator)

    LINKAGE Q1 (2022) - BREAK THE BIAS

    CEO's Perspective

    Gayle Pazos - Senior Vice President and Managing Director, Scotiabank Trinidad and Tobago

    #BreakTheBias through creating an equitable, diverse and inclusive workplace.


    I believe that employee success is essential to the growth, resilience, and long-term well-being of our organisation. As such, we strive to create an inclusive culture where every employee is enabled to reach their full potential, all individuals are respected for who they are, and differences and similarities are embraced. It is important that we do what we can to raise awareness and dismantle those biases that inhibit advancement for women and marginalised groups.

    Why fighting bias matters

    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.

    Bias leads us to gravitate toward people who are like ourselves in terms of gender, race, age, income, personality type or some other factor. 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 diverse groups of people, the less likely we feel prejudiced against others.

    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 action to support women in the workplace. Combating the biases women face at work is critical to getting this right.

    Studies show that almost three in four women experience bias at work, and those who do are more likely to leave. Women of colour, LGBTQ+ women, and women with disabilities face more acute biases. Yet only one in three employees, including managers, challenges biased behaviour when they see it.

    Knowing that bias exists isn’t enough. We need to act.

    It starts with you

    We each have an active role to play. You have the power to help drive change.

    Having women and other diverse voices in leadership roles is good for business. It promotes greater innovation, improved performance and helps attract and retain top talent—which all ultimately lead to enhanced customer service and offerings.

    As business leaders, we are responsible for working towards positive change. As an executive with years of experience leading international teams, I share the following ideas when it comes to fighting bias:

    1. Examine your own unconscious biases. Once we recognise our own biases—yes, we all have them!—we can address the reasons behind them and make conscientious behavioural 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 organisation may encounter. Strengthening your relationships with both male and female leaders will help you build a solid team committed to speaking up and effecting lasting change.

    Allyship is also important

    As I just mentioned, allyship is key in breaking or fighting biases. We need to come together to be active allies for women.

    We can all help to advance a culture of inclusion by taking intentional, positive action to promote and support a group we may or 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 take accountability as strong and effective allies.

    When we advocate for each other, we rise together.

    So what is Scotiabank’s approach to diversity and inclusion?

    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:

    • Globally, 32% of Vice Presidents and above are women; while in the Caribbean and Central America, women make up 38% of the Vice President and above pool.

    • Additionally, Unit Directors within our operational framework comprise 51% women.

    • Focusing now on Trinidad and Tobago, 53% of our senior management team are women and we boast 46% female representation at the Unit Director level.

    • I am happy to report that Scotiabank Trinidad and Tobago has 60% women on its Board.

    Women at Scotiabank T&amp;T: 46% Unit Directors 53% Senior Managers 60% Board Directors

    We’ve also made some bold moves in recent times in advancing our diversity and inclusion agenda:

    • In April 2021, employees’ insurance medical benefit was extended to same-sex partners, making Scotiabank the first in the local industry to introduce this for employees.

    • In February 2022, we introduced a new global standard for parental leave. The expanded policies for Trinidad and Tobago include the following major changes (first in the industry):

     Maternity Leave was extended from 14 weeks to 16 weeks

     Paternity Leave offering now at 4 weeks, up from 3 days

     Adoption & Gestational Surrogacy Eligibility

    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 organisations 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.

    I encourage you to make your own bold moves while continuing to Break the Bias and Ally On.




  • 26 Jun 2022 1:50 AM | Kennedy Maraj (Administrator)

    LINKAGE Q1 (2022) - BREAK THE BIAS

    AMCHAM T&T NEW MEMBERS


    We are thrilled to introduce our new members to the AMCHAM T&T family.

    Coded Arts Ltd. is a small boutique external development and video game studio based in Trinidad and Tobago. Founded in 2015 by Mr Andy Berahazar Jr. and Mr Brian Perry. We strive to become partners with well-established video game publishers and studios to create top quality art assets in this highly demanding industry, allowing us to diversify our home country's economy, by providing jobs within the local artist's community.

    Over the years Coded Arts has built relationships and contracts locally, regionally, and international, with well-established organizations, some of which include:

    • Nifty Games
    • Fun-gi
    • The Digicel Foundation, developing a mobile and VR game focused on aiding the differently-abled in preparing for natural disasters
    • The university of Price Edwards Island in Ontario Canada.

    Our mission statement is to forge lasting partnerships with the largest game publishers on the planet and position ourselves as the “go-to” outsourcing company in the region

    Email: info@coded-arts.com
    Web: www.coded-arts.com



    DigitalEra is an industry recognised and award-winning solution provider and consultant of network and cybersecurity products and services, serving major businesses, financial services, education, and governmental agencies throughout the US, the Caribbean and Latin America. For decades we have built strategic vendor alliances providing us with a portfolio of leading-edge Cybersecurity solutions, giving us access to the most sophisticated and best fit security products, while holding top level accreditations with each. We live and breathe security and our primary goal is to help our customers prevent security breaches and mitigate threats. DigitalEra is a United States of America based company.

    Throughout our 20+ years, we have been a strategic cybersecurity partner to our clients, providing high-quality risk and threat detection, and risk and threat management solutions to our clients. Our clients have benefitted from high levels of protection against malicious attacks, retaining strong protection of their data and critical ITC resources across all their business operations. Our portfolio of offerings includes compromise and risk assessments, penetration testing, vulnerability scanning and management, virtual CISO, incident response, endpoint detection and response, managed services and the like.

    Our Team comprises ex-NASA and other Certified specialists in Cybersecurity holding the following certifications: Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), Certified Information Security Manager (CISM), Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), Certified Chief Information Security Officer (CCISO), ISO/IEC 27001:2015 Lead Implementer PECB, CompTIA Security+, CompTIA Network+, ISSA Members, ISACA CISM, GIAC GSNA, GIAC GSLC, CompTIA Linux+ Certified Professional among others. Our approach to implementation follows the NIST Cybersecurity best practice framework and together with our project management expertise and depth and breadth of our experienced and certified bench we ensure the delivery of high-quality solutions that protect the business environment.

    4931 SW 75th Avenue, Miami, FL 33155
    Tel: +1 (786) 621-8600
    Email: sales@digitaleragroup.com
    Web: www.digitaleragroup.com




    As a Future Planning firm, ExeQtrust Limited (EQ) blends technology with a modern human touch in the traditional fields of estate and financial planning and estate administration. EQ’s bespoke, technology-driven platforms aim to provide individuals and groups with innovative and pioneering Will Preparation, Probate, Financial Planning and Pension Administration solutions.

    EQ offers a unique combination of independent and unbiased Future Planning services to help clients live, spend and save today, while still building a head-start for future generations. The team at EQ is passionate about sharing knowledge in all areas of Future Planning while simplifying and demystifying industry jargon and legalese, making important concepts easy to understand. By investing heavily in technology and staff, EQ’s clients benefit from personalised yet affordable services with “Future Planning at their fingertips”.

    While still in its infancy, EQ is already serving a wide cross-section of individual and corporate clients and partnering with many leading financial institutions to help their treasured clients and employees fulfil their Future Planning needs. EQ invites you to ‘Join the Conversation’ as you plan for the life you want while creating an enviable legacy for future generations.

    5 Bombay Street, St. James, Port of Spain
    Tel: +1(868) 267 3737
    Email: admin@exeqtrust.com
    Web: www.exeqtrust.com



    Precision Cybertechnologies & Digital Solutions Ltd. was founded on the philosophy of state-of-the-art cybersecurity and digital solutions. Our guiding principle is simply that we will "provide and secure all your digital needs".

    We have local, regional, and global expertise with more than 75 years of combined experience.

    Currently, our solutions are deployed in very specialised areas including national security and in large local and regional corporations. We are also currently engaged with large conglomerates to handle their cybersecurity requirements.

    We have formed partnerships with some of the most prolific and respected international companies operating in these arenas, which allows us to give our customers the best possible options and the greatest advantage.

    Tel: +1(868) 610-7237
    Email: admin@precision-cyber.com or info@precision-cyber.com
    Web: www.precision-cyber.com



    Shamrock HSE is a provider of Health Safety and Environment (HSE) Engineering Consultancy Services in the CARICOM Region and Trinidad and Tobago.

    We provide the following services to our customers:

    • Process Safety Studies including HAZOP/HAZID/ENVID/LOPA facilitation
    • Process Flaring & Environmental Studies
    • Project/Engineering Management Services

    • Renewable, Decarbonization and Sustainable Development Studies

    • Computer Aided Design Services (CAD) Services
    • Certified Verification Agent (CVA) Services
    • Manpower Services (Engineering support)

    We provide Engineering Services for both local and internationally based companies and hold a track record for project delivery within schedule and budget. Our main competitive advantages include key experienced personnel with niche skills, use of niche digital engineering platforms and a suite of processes and procedures to drive efficiencies and competitive costing for customers

    Contact Info - Tel: +1-868-777-3773
    Address: Office Address: Regus Level 2, Invaders Bay Tower, Off Audrey Jeffers Highway,
    Port of Spain, Trinidad.
    Email: enquiries@shamrock-hse.com
    Web: www.shamrock-hse.com


  • 25 Jun 2022 11:28 PM | Kennedy Maraj (Administrator)

    LINKAGE Q1 (2022) - BREAK THE BIAS

    Security Watch

    GUIDELINES FOR SELECTING A BACKGROUND INVESTIGATOR

    By AMCHAM T&T’s Security Committee

    Overview

    In our Q3 2021 edition, the AMCHAM T&T Security Committee shared on contractor vetting as an integral component of securing one’s business by ensuring suitable entities and personnel are selected for work within your organisations. In this article, we want to focus on a vital component of this process, that of the background investigator. This individual or group of persons can offer an invaluable contribution in the vetting process, for both the selection of contractors and permanent employees. This article will look at the skill set and qualifications that should be considered before hiring or contracting investigators. We will also discuss a recommended format for reports that may be submitted by your investigators.

    Skills of the Background Investigator

    • Investigative/research - Background investigators should be familiar with a wide range of investigative techniques, ranging from thorough searches of written and internet-based documentation, to information verification, to conducting interviews.

    • Information gathering - The investigator must be of a most curious disposition with an insatiable appetite for learning new things. The investigator must think nothing about having to read through high volumes of documentation and preparing copious written or typed notes.

    • Analytical – Background investigators need to be highly analytical and able to synthesise information from raw data, to draw conclusions. They also need to be able to follow a trail of information and verify its accuracy. The ability to meticulously and rigorously develop a timeline for a sequence of events, based on information gathered, is an indispensable skill of an investigator.

    • Industry knowledge - In this role, background investigators should have thorough industry knowledge. For example, a background investigation for a public servant has different needs than for a financial institution. For example:

    o On behalf of a financial institution, an investigator may enquire of a candidate’s former employer if a candidate has a favourable track record in the handling of high volumes of cash.

    o On behalf of a business that provides office-based administrative services, an investigator may enquire if a candidate approaches her or his work in an organised manner.

    o On behalf of a restaurant or clothing store, an investigator may enquire if a candidate gets along well with members of the public from all walks of life.

    • Communication - Effective communication is central to this role, since background investigators need to speak with a variety of individuals and prepare reports on their findings. The investigator has to be able to relate to people across all age groups, ethnicities, religions. Intermediate skills in Spanish as a second language could prove quite useful. The investigator must be able to interface effortlessly in any demographic setting.

    Qualifications & Experience of the Background Investigator

    • 3–5 years military and/or law enforcement experience in the role of carrying out investigations or

    • A 4-year college degree (e.g. in Criminal Justice or Police Science)

    • Suitable corporate security qualifications, e.g. Professional Certified Investigator, PCI- issued by the American Society for Industrial Security (ASIS) or other certified investigative training.

    • In the absence of military or police service, 5 years practical investigative experience.

    • A proven understanding of criminal and civil law and how to objectively evaluate an employment candidate with any prior legal challenges. For example, being charged and found not guilty neither constitutes a criminal record nor indicates unsuitability for employment.

    Click to download the Background Investigator Report Sample Template compiled by the AMCHAM T&T Security Committee


  • 25 Jun 2022 11:11 PM | Kennedy Maraj (Administrator)

    LINKAGE Q1 (2022) - BREAK THE BIAS

    T&T KEEPING PACE WITH THE DIGITAL EVOLUTION

    By The Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago

    A 2020 online United Nations article titled “Shaping our Future Together” states, “digital technologies have advanced more rapidly than any innovation in our history – reaching around 50% of the developing world’s population in only two decades and transforming societies. By enhancing connectivity, financial inclusion, access to trade and public services, technology can be a great equaliser”.

    Similarly, a World Bank article, titled Digital Development published on their website (https://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/digitaldevelopment/overview#1) on Apr 20, 2022, states, “digital technologies are at the forefront of development and provide a unique opportunity for countries to accelerate economic growth and connect citizens to services and jobs”.

    The Human Element

    Advances in technology are evident globally. However, what must always be kept in mind is that behind advances in technology there is a critical element: the human element.

    While the Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (TATT) continues to focus on establishing critical building blocks to technology advancement in this country, such as encouraging investment in the local telecommunications and broadcasting sectors, ensuring access to technologies at affordable prices, there has been increasing focus on strengthening the human resource capacity operating within various levels of these sectors, whether they be end-users or potential and actual technology students.

    Girls in ICT Day

    TATT’s “Careers in ICTs” initiatives, which commenced circa 2012, encourage young persons to embark upon careers in the rapidly evolving ICT arena. This was at the core of TATT’s commemoration of the International Telecommunication Union’s “Girls in ICT Day”.


    This year, TATT hosted an online workshop titled “Tech4Girls: Masterclass in How to Build Your Online Personal Branding” to commemorate Girls in ICT Day.

    For this workshop, TATT partnered with the Ministry of Digital Transformation (MDT), CANTO (a non-profit association made up of operators, organisations, companies and individuals in the ICT sector with a Caribbean focus), and Tobago Information Technology Limited (TITL).

    The event attracted 150 young women who learned:

    • Fundamentals of personal branding
    • How to incorporate passion into your career
    • Networking tips on how to develop and build relationships
    • Do’s and don’ts when developing your personal brand online
    • A checklist for what your personal brand will look like
    • Cybersafety tips.

    Participants were also able to enhance their web development skills as they had the opportunity to create branded websites using Google Site.

    Female leaders within the ICTs sector in Trinidad and Tobago Dr. Kim Mallalieu, Deputy Chairman of the Board of Directors, TATT; Ruth Campbell, Chief Executive Officer (Ag.), TITL; Jacqueline Wilson, Strategic Advisor, MDT and Teresa Wankin, Secretary-General, CANTO, delivered inspiring and motivational remarks during the opening ceremony.

    Dr. Mallalieu emphasised that the objective of the event was to enable young girls and women to develop the ability to build a compelling online brand that will help propel their ambitions and dreams forward.

    Seniors in Tech

    TATT also hosted another learning initiative, this time for the country’s seniors, to commemorate World Telecommunication and Information Society Day 2022 themed “Digital Technologies for Older Persons and Healthy Ageing”. The initiative, a one-hour programme, broadcast on one of the country’s free to air television stations, included representatives of the National Information and Communication Technology Company Limited, highlighting the Government’s online services from which seniors would benefit. Representatives from the National Library and Information System Authority were also on hand to inform of the many services at libraries for seniors including step-by-step guidance on how to use their services through a project aptly titled “Bring your Devices and Come”.

    The objective of the programme was to engage the country’s seniors and demonstrate to them the importance of using digital technologies in a manner that would contribute to their physical and emotional wellbeing. The programme featured gerontologist Dr. Jennifer Rouse, who highlighted some of the challenges faced by seniors when using technology, and what family members and friends could do to assist. Dr. Rouse advised seniors to take the time to learn how to use technology and provided a range of ideas on how they can be used by seniors, including listening to jazz to calypso, from the safety and comfort of their homes.

    Student Bursaries

    Recognising the importance of academic training and certification in the area of ICT to facilitate Government’s pursuit of building and maintaining an enabling environment for digital transformation, TATT has begun to pursue another initiative that will see the provision of bursaries to twelve students pursuing ICT-related undergraduate training. TATT proposes to grant these bursaries at the end of the 2021/2022 and 2022 /2023 academic years to four students from each of the following tertiary level institutions:

    • College of Science Technology and Applied Arts of Trinidad and Tobago
    • The University of the West Indies and
    • University of Trinidad and Tobago

    The initiative aims at expanding this country’s pool of ICT professionals as we embrace digital transformation and is in alignment with the Authority’s Strategic Plan and with Government’s Vision 2030 National Development Strategy (2016-2030) - Putting People First: Nurturing Our Greatest Asset. Goal 7 of theme 1 of the development strategy envisions this country possessing "a modern, relevant education and training system". The initiative is also aligned with the Ministry of Education's Digital Literacy Programme.

    TATT will continue to initiate and implement such initiatives to assist Trinidad and Tobago to keep pace with the world’s most digitally advanced nations.

    Click on the image below to view the programme on YouTube



  • 25 Jun 2022 11:01 PM | Kennedy Maraj (Administrator)

    LINKAGE Q1 (2022) - BREAK THE BIAS

    Women Can…in Cybersecurity

    By Vitra Gopee


    In a world of 7.8 billion people, with more than 50% comprising of women, females account for 47.7% of the global workforce, 35% of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) students, 27.1% are managers and leaders, only 26% of jobs in computer-related sectors are occupied by women and the pay gap between men and women is 20%. These opener statistics are intended to provide a visual viewpoint as to the level of under-representation and to proffer this as an inspiring opportunity for females to represent.

    Growth projections in the Cybersecurity space according to Fortune Business Insights, are expected to more than double from US$165.78 billion to US$366.10 billion in the period between 2021 and 2028, with about 32 million new positions to be created. Women account for only 11% of the Cybersecurity workforce overall, despite having higher levels of education than men for the past 20 years. It is not that Cybersecurity and IT are predisposed to men, but rather that women have been “conditioned” into thinking that IT is a field for men, which has not always been the case. In the early 20th century, women were the first programmers who made substantial contributions to the industry during World War II where they were the backbone of computing.

    MALE-DOMINATED ADS FOR HOME PCs

    Around the mid-1980s, this outpacing representation started its reverse, then plunged, even though women’s representation in other technical fields maintained a healthy incline. This phenomenon coincided with the introduction of home PCs, with advertising targeted towards a male-dominated audience. This heralded the beginning of gender identification on a mass scale and so, male roles developed out of computers creating this presumed male predisposition. The mass media seemed to have “naturally” carved out technical “toys” (or gadgets) for men, which stands as a plausible reason why so many women “naturally” gravitated to “softer” fields and felt more suitably “placed” in careers inclined to caring, nursing and education.

    PIPELINE LEAK IN STEM

    Global statistics show that while there is an increase in female enrollment in STEM disciplines, there is also a notable outflow of women throughout this educational period, termed “Pipeline Leak”. The issue does not seem to be education, as global and local statistics confirm that females outperform and outpace their male counterparts at all levels of secondary and tertiary level education, and are outpacing in the field of engineering and medicine. Unconscious bias presents another problem, dating back and promoting male-dominated cultures. This proud and compelling history of women who dominated programming and computing must be communicated as proof and potential.

    While changing the face and look of advertising around technology and gadgets to be more gender-neutral, this cannot be the responsibility of marketing only. Fathers and mothers need to carry these conversations that women can be anything they want to be. Sesame Street got it right when they boldly showcased in 1974 the song “Women Can Be” about the many careers that “Women Can” pursue. The chorus proclaims, “there's nothing we women can't be…Just look around, it’s easy to see, there’s nothing we women can’t be!”

    HOW TO BREAK THE BIAS

    There are no careers “reserved” for men just as there are no careers that women are better “suited” for. It shows up as neurosexism—which needs a mind-shift overhaul—where people discriminate against women because they think that female brains are “wired differently” from men's, therefore women have trouble pursuing “harder subjects” such as IT, mathematics and the like. Career opportunities in IT and Cybersecurity are due to a talent shortage, a skills gap which can only be solved by the development of such skills. Teachers have a responsibility to communicate and encourage our female students to advance studies in STEM and communicate how they can fit in. There shouldn’t be gender-based segregation in curriculum and learning, and education in IT must be available from as early as entry into high school.

    Female role models are critically needed to increase careers in IT and Cybersecurity, for women to see, hear, believe and know that rewarding and promising careers are achievable. The International Information System Security Certification Consortium or (ISC)² Cybersecurity Workforce Report published in August 2018, cited that while men outnumber women three to one in Cybersecurity, more women are now entering the field, making a name for themselves in the profession, carving a path to management and climbing the ladder to leadership positions. The findings point to younger, more educated female millennials, although there is a higher percentage of GenX men who make up more of the current workforce in Cybersecurity — a clear and promising sign of a shift in gender equality and change in gender-based workforce roles.

    Creating awareness about careers in IT and Cybersecurity – Girls in Tech Days, Digital Girls, Girls in ICT, to name a few, are all recent initiatives and programmes promoted by IT companies to encourage females in the field. Concurrently, there needs to be more support and outreach programmes at the secondary and tertiary levels to provide guidance and steer and support females into non-traditional studies that may be less “natural” and more rewarding.

    The Cybersecurity industry has moved well beyond advanced programming skills, coding and networking to include assessments, analytics, forensics, business consulting, operations, auditing, compliance, project management, sales, graphics, marketing, advertising and the like. At our schools, in our homes, at job fairs, campus initiatives, hiring programmes, and corporate reach-outs to women colleges, we need to correct misperceptions that this is a male-dominated, “techie” space as well as communicate the balance, depth, breadth and mix of skills required in Cybersecurity in targeted marketing programmes to females.

    WORKPLACE DISCRIMINATION

    The (ISC)² Cybersecurity Workforce Report also pointed out that although the entry of females in Cybersecurity careers was changing, compensation continues to be an uphill battle. Fewer women earn the same level of compensation as men. Although this may be explained by the age and tenure of the growing entry of females into the Cybersecurity field, currently the industry is dominated by older men with more tenure. Previous research revealed the troubling reality that women in Cybersecurity managerial positions earn about US$5,000 less than men. Such pay inequity is a significant issue. More women are proportionally earning more degrees and certifications than men to “out skill” and “overcompensate” in order to be compensated equally.

    Our hiring practices and workplace gender disparity contribute in part to low career entry for women. There is evidence that females in Cybersecurity have been on the receiving end of conscious and unconscious workplace discrimination, with male-oriented language used in job descriptions and more favourability towards men in the interviewing and performance evaluation processes. We must tackle representation head-on, not only in terms of who we employ and how we hire but in terms of reaching otherwise qualified candidates who do not apply. According to a 2014 HP Report, women “disqualify” themselves from consideration if they do not match 100% of the qualifications, while men apply for positions where they satisfy 60% of the prerequisites for the job. From an HR perspective, we need to re-look how job requirements are structured, the language used to attract and encourage “soft” skills as equally critical to technical capabilities, and the interviewing process should include a more diverse panel of technology and business professionals.

    The mentoring process must be an ongoing initiative at all educational levels as well as in the HR, marketing, and promotional campaigns of tertiary level institutions and corporations. We need male and female mentors to stand as credible voices to break the stereotype about traditional gender-based roles in Cybersecurity and to encourage and support women to harness their educational superiority. Indra Nooyi, former Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo and current member of the Board of Directors at Amazon appropriately captures it, “Women helping each other – coaching, mentoring and providing tips – is a great way for us to be our own force.”

    FEMALE ROLE MODELS NEEDED

    One of the most compelling ways to get past and overcome the issue of underrepresentation is to show how far we have come with representation. The more women see women who succeed, the greater the opportunity to attract women to rise to meet opportunities that exist.

    We do not lack female role models in business, industry, IT and Cybersecurity, although we acknowledge that the opportunity to outnumber men in leadership roles is ours for the taking. Women must step up, show up and share their experiences as role models. We have a duty to represent. In a European study of girls and young women ages 11–30, girls’ interest in STEM studies nearly doubled when they had role models in the field and three-fifths of respondents said they would feel more confident choosing a STEM career if the field had more gender equity. One way for us to decrease income disparities is for more females to get and stay involved in STEM studies and apply for jobs where we meet at least 60% of the qualifications, recognising that there are other “soft” skills that enhance our job function and performance — decision making, problem-solving, organisation, time management and the like.

    Former Secretary-General of the UN, Ban Ki-moon’s message for International Women’s Day in 2014 stands as a poignantly relevant appeal to our men and women today, “Countries with more gender equality have better economic growth. Companies with more women leaders perform better. Peace agreements that include women are more durable. Parliaments with more women enact more legislation on key social issues such as health, education, anti-discrimination and child support. The evidence is clear: equality for women means progress for all.”

    The opportunity for women to have rewarding careers in the field of Cybersecurity is overwhelming. There’s no one silver bullet and it will take a multi-faceted approach and partnership among varied stakeholders of all genders, ages, demographics, corporations and academics, to help females meet the challenge. The opportunity is ours, for us women to support other women and together build a strong, adequate and compelling workforce, finding new solutions to solve the talent shortage in Cybersecurity. Women Can…And Women Will.

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Vitra Gopee is the Chief Operating Officer at DigitalEra Group

  • 25 Jun 2022 10:22 PM | Kennedy Maraj (Administrator)

    LINKAGE Q1 (2022) - BREAK THE BIAS

    AMCHAM T&T and Republic Bank present THIS 2022: “Change in Action”

    By AMCHAM T&T Staff Writer

    Derwin Howell (l) greets Colman Clifford (r). Looking on are Carina Cockburn and Navin Dookeran

    Four years ago, AMCHAM T&T launched the first edition of the Tech Hub Islands Summit (t.h.i.s.) with a vision to build a booming tech industry in T&T. The goal was to enlist the combined and unified support of the private sector and the government to create a marketplace that encourages the free flow of ideas to give birth to partnerships and innovation around the digital transformation reshaping the world in which we now live, work, and play.

    For this to happen, we advocated for greater private sector investment in technology by highlighting how practical tech solutions can improve all facets of business, and by reminding companies that they all are—at least in part—tech companies in today’s world. Little did we know back then how real this statement would prove to be for every company facing the onslaught of a pandemic that disrupted supply chains and introduced new workplace measures such as social distancing and remote work.

    A lot has changed since then, but what hasn’t diminished is AMCHAM T&T’s commitment and resolve toward building a national tech ecosystem and marketplace to drive real growth in our society. Moving forward, much will hinge on ensuring that there is a truly connected ecosystem that will bring all the tech groups together to drive real change and progress, so that the tech industry is ready to explode in T&T.

    The fourth edition of t.h.i.s. in 2022 promises to be a vital platform that will bring together the influential innovators and disruptors alongside the leaders of the private and public sectors to exchange tech-generation ideas, solve tech problems, and attract investment in tech.

    Nirad Tewarie, CEO of AMCHAM T&T who spoke at the launch of t.h.i.s. 2022 at Republic House, Port of Spain, on May 5th, said that technology was the currency that would drive T&T’s economic prospects for the future. “We must keep investing in technology as we continue to map a plan that will help us generate the expected growth that will be so vital to our survival and competitiveness in this ever-evolving world.”

    “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,” Tewarie said. “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.”

    The official theme for this year’s conference is “Change in Action”, which seeks to highlight how technology has been used to 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. At t.h.i.s. 2022, AMCHAM T&T promises to help you learn from the success stories and experiences of those who did more than just talk about digital transformation but took the steps and made the change.

    “We will hear testimonies of how accessing technological solutions have improved business processes and customer experience to ensure continued success and survival," Tewarie said. "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."


    Derwin Howell, Executive Director of Republic Bank Limited, the official Title Sponsor for t.h.i.s. 2022, also spoke at the launch and reminded everyone that it will take all sectors of society to achieve digital transformation in T&T. “While a critical step to digital transformation at the national level is government’s involvement and more so leadership; other areas of society need to experience their own eureka moments on this matter and drive their own agenda if we are to continue to move the needle and take our rightful place as a nation at the digital table.”

    Howell advises that we must acknowledge, understand and address the concerns and issues of all affected stakeholders to achieve this, since this will be critical to creating buy-in, wide-scale adoption and ultimately success.


    Meanwhile, Zia Paton, Caribbean Digital Services Leader at PwC, one of the Platinum Sponsors for t.h.i.s. 2022, believes the country must continue to drive change as it emerges from the pandemic and transitions amid the fourth industrial revolution. “Every one of us has to continue to contribute to solving problems but being impatient when things are not moving in the direction they need to.”

    While PwC recognises that technology is fundamental to the world that we live in today, Paton says investing in upskilling people is one of the key facets of the PwC strategy for digital transformation. She advises that this strategy must be human-led and understood clearly.

    It's a point underscored in the survey findings conducted by Digicel Business across more than 1,900 companies in the region which found that 

    78 percent of businesses expect digital transformation to transform their enterprise while 89 percent see digital transformation as an opportunity.

    Colman Clifford, Head of Enterprise and Multinational Sales at Digicel Business Solutions, says that companies stand to greatly benefit from integrating technology into their operations. “It can help both large and small enterprises to grow sales, enhance customer relationships and customer experience, save money, and in many instances, it even helps to attract and retain employees— which are all benefits no business can afford to pass up.”


    Carina Cockburn, Country Representative for the IDB, a Platinum Sponsor of the conference, says t.h.i.s. 2022 is especially timely and important since the event brings together thought leaders and players in the technology space at a time when Caribbean economies are embracing digital transformation. “The IDB is looking forward to being a part of t.h.i.s. and is eager to explore practical tech solutions being employed by governments and businesses around the world to contribute to their adoption in the local context.”



    Navin Dookeran, CEO of EXIMBANK, also a Platinum Sponsor, said a key objective of the bank is to contribute to technology deployment acceleration across the private sector, which Eximbank hopes to accomplish through the launch of a Catalytic Fund in early 2023 that was announced in last year’s national budget. This fund will provide support for the local ICT sector, which has historically been a net FOREX earner.

    “I truly believe that the appropriate leveraging of technology can propel our manufacturing sector to grow. It is also a very unique opportunity for our services sector, such as digital content creators and creatives,” Dookeran said. “Companies and even sole proprietors who have services to offer can already go global (with little hassle) via platforms such as Fiver, Upwork, Freelancer and Youtube”

    t.h.i.s. 2022 will assess how technology is currently creating a new world with the latest trends around Web3, the Metaverse, digital currencies and Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs). The conference aims to provide valuable teachings from the global tech giants to help implement practical tech solutions to realise digital transformation in the public sector while building on the local initiatives that are currently underway.

    t.h.i.s. 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 www.techislands.net.

    Republic Bank returns as the Title Sponsor while PwC, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Digicel Business, Simply Intense and Eximbank are Platinum Sponsors, Guarding Group is the Gold Sponsor and Balroops Group is the Silver Sponsor. Trend Media is the Official Digital Media Partner while Trinidad and Tobago IFC and VISA are session sponsors. Interested persons can register for the summit at techislands.net.

     REGISTER FOR THIS 2022 

    MEET OUR THIS2022 FEATURED SPEAKERS


    Dr. Bernard Meyerson
    Chief Innovation Officer Emeritus,
    IBM

    Dr. Meyerson, an IBM Fellow, serves as IBM’s Chief Innovation Officer Emeritus.

    Since joining IBM in 1980, Dr. Meyerson is credited with inventing silicon germanium technology, which is made for wireless applications and offers the high-speed, high-frequency performance needed for wireless systems. It also provides the potential for integrating analog, RF, and digital functions on a single integrated circuit. With this invention to his name, Dr. Myerson ultimately founded and led IBM’s highly successful Analog and Mixed Signal business. He went on to have many executive roles, leading global semiconductor development, strategic alliances for the Systems and Technology Group, and culminating in his role from 2010 through 2019 as IBM’s first Chief Innovation Officer.

    His team led the definition and integration of corporate-wide technical and business strategic initiatives. He has served as Chairman of the World Economic Forum’s Meta-Council on Emerging Technology, now co-chair of this ongoing project with Scientific American’s prior Editor-in-Chief, Mariette DiChristina.

    Dr. Meyerson continues to support IBM and its key clients in his Emeritus role, as well as engage with the external innovation communities around the globe.

    Speaking at t.h.i.s. 2022 Opening Ceremony:



    David White
    Global Technology Team Lead for Infrastructure Modernisation,
    Google Cloud

    David White currently works as the Global Technology Team Lead for Infrastructure Modernization in Google Cloud’s Solutions Engineering organisation. He has over 30 years’ experience in technology and has worked in a variety of organisations including at the United Nations, in various NGOs, in pharmaceuticals, behavioural healthcare, and artificial intelligence. David has held roles including CIO, COO, and VP Cloud Operations and managed technology, cybersecurity, compliance, operations, and customer success organisations. All of these have benefited greatly by combining current technology and hiring excellent people.



    Zia Paton
    Caribbean Digital Services Leader,
    PwC Trinidad and Tobago

    Zia Paton leads Digital Services at PwC in the Caribbean and is also the joint leader of Consulting Practice for PwC in the Southern Caribbean. With over 25 years’ experience, Ms. Paton works closely with clients across many sectors to deliver successful outcomes and advises on Strategy as well as Implementation including complexities associated with People and Change, Process and Systems. Ms. Paton also advises clients in both the public and private sectors and works closely with multi-national teams as well as multi-disciplinary teams. She is currently working with a team of global specialists to increase digital adoption here in the Caribbean.





    Abraham Smith
    CEO, Digicel (Trinidad & Tobago ) Limited

    Abraham Smith is a Senior Executive with international telecom leadership and management experience. He has a proven track record of transforming and optimising international businesses.









    Miles Abraham
    CEO, Si.digital (www.simplyintense.com)

    Miles Abraham is the founder of Si.digital. With over two decades of leadership in the digital space, he operates a unique business model that delivers digital transformation projects, award-winning modern marketing, and enterprise-grade loyalty programmes to the Caribbean.

    Speaking at “Futureproof Digital Infrastructure”







    Derwin Howell
    Executive Director,
    Republic Bank Limited

    Derwin M. Howell was appointed an Executive Director of Republic Bank Limited in 2012. He also serves as Chairman of Republic Bank (Barbados) Limited, Republic Bank (Suriname) N.V., Republic Bank (EC) Limited and Republic Bank (Anguilla) Limited. He is a Senior Member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (SMIEEE), a Member of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (MIET) and a Member of the Engineering Council of the United Kingdom (Chartered Engineer). External Appointments Mr. Howell is the Chairman of Habitat for Humanity Trinidad and Tobago and a Chancellor’s Representative on the UWI St. Augustine Campus Council.

    Speaking at “Data-Driven Decision Making” - Opening Ceremony



    Navin Dookeran
    CEO, EximBank

    Mr. Dookeran’s last role was at the UWI-Arthur Lok Jack Global School of Business as the Programme Director of the Executive MBA. His early career began at the Development Finance Limited in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. Later, he moved to the RBC Financial Group in Toronto, Canada, where he held the portfolio of Commercial Relationship Manager. His experience in finance continued at Manulife Bank and Trust (Canada) as Director in Lending Services and then as the AVP/Head of Credit Risk Management, where he continued to deepen his experience in banking strategy, operations, service delivery and credit risk management.




    Carina Cockburn
    IDB Trinidad and Tobago Country Representative, Inter-American Development Bank

    Carina Cockburn is an Economic Development professional and Change Leader with over 20 years’ experience in the public and private sector. Her core competencies include Strategic Planning, Change Management and Project Portfolio Management.

    For over 10 years, Ms. Cockburn has served in a variety of positions at the Inter-American Development Bank and was appointed Country Representative for Trinidad & Tobago in April 2021.

    Speaking at “Change in Action”




    Suzanne (Suzy) Teele
    Vice President, Strategic Initiatives and Outreach,
    ARM Institute

    Suzy Teele is a highly respected executive in technology strategy and marketing. She is currently Vice President of Strategic Initiatives and Outreach for the ARM (Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing) Institute, a US public-private partnership focused on advancing robotics and workforce development to grow US manufacturing. Prior to joining the ARM Institute, she was the COO of two technology start-ups.








    Ted Teele
    Chief Executive Officer,
    Kaleidoscope

    Ted has the experience, analytical capabilities, and interpersonal skills necessary to make and implement the best possible decisions. He has honed his strategic decision-making skills across multiple industries with 20+ years of successful CEO experience after earlier senior positions in sales and business development. He is currently the Chief Executive Officer at Kaleidoscope, which is a One Stop Shop digital marketing company for the orthodontic market.







     REGISTER FOR THE TECH HUB ISLANDS SUMMIT (THIS) 2022 at techislands.net 


  • 25 Jun 2022 10:13 PM | Kennedy Maraj (Administrator)

    LINKAGE Q1 (2022) - BREAK THE BIAS

    Digital Twin Technology, an Enabler in the Digital Transformation Journey

    by Stanley R Wharton

    The opportunities for digital transformation were highlighted recently in three virtual meetings on the importance of technological solutions for industry in the Caribbean region (Wharton, 2020, 2022). Countries and businesses alike are challenged to embrace industry 4.0 technologies—how to democratise and use technology—to derive added benefits for profitability, sustainability and growth. Many businesses that have not considered introducing technology owing to the lack of knowledge of the industry 4.0 revolution, are unaware of the benefits derived by early adopters. We can explore, therefore, why and how technology can be implemented within the countries, and a business, using Digital Twin technology.

    COVID fostered 4.0

    The impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic encouraged businesses to introduce innovative technologies for collaboration when workers were confined to work at home. Many businesses that embraced new collaboration and connectivity tools realised improvements in growth through increased efficiencies. The dynamics and disruption by the global industry 4.0 technology initiatives allowed companies and industries to pivot towards new ways of conducting business. Technologies include innovative use of data—Big Data and analytics—to drive analysis and decision making, cloud computing, smart sensors, robotics, internet of things, augmented and virtual reality. Industry 4.0 is described as the ongoing automation of traditional manufacturing and industrial practices using modern smart technologies. The advent of the COVID-19 pandemic saw many companies adopting and leveraging these technologies to digitise their businesses, improve efficiencies and increase resilience.

    Initially, few industries adopted the use of modern technologies. Even before the onset of the pandemic, a study by Cornelissen, Barkawie and Fansa (2019) showed that industries such as travel, hospitality and leisure, telecom, banking, retail and distribution, had embraced technology implementation into their businesses.

    4.0 and the Energy Sector

    Interestingly, the oil and gas industry, with capital intensive and data-rich sectors along their Value Chain, in comparison showed the lowest average digital maturity.

    The current scenario for industries is that standing still is not an option and with the tremendous challenges in industries, early adopters of technology implementation reaped the benefits. In a survey on COVID-19 impacts, the top priority for energy firms was to digitise their business activities, with two-thirds stating an intent to accelerate digital action plans (World Energy Council, 2020). There appears now to be a commitment to refocus on innovation for the years ahead with 42% reporting plans to increase R&D spending.


    What does the energy industry landscape look like? For energy companies, many international energy companies have embraced and implemented innovative industry 4.0 technology solutions to increase efficiencies, resilience and sustainability. If we compare international companies with local companies, however, there appears to be contrasting will, abilities and expertise in adopting modern technologies. International energy companies operate within a different competitive environment and demonstrate agility, where decision making within upper leadership is concerned. These oftentimes possess bigger budgets, R&D departments, and critical capital infrastructure worth maintaining. Decisionmaking is usually top-down based on the company’s mission and vision, or with a renewed focus on strategy for renewables as for bp, Total Energies and several others.

    4.0 and sovereign countries

    For countries, investments are linked to development, and capital projects may be funded publicly, privately or through public-private partnerships wherein budgets for infrastructure are linked to wealth, borrowing capacity and vision. Two comparative cases are presented here. In the United States, the government committed a whopping US$550 billion in new federal investment for America’s infrastructure to focus on infrastructure and spending a once-in-a-generation investment for infrastructure (Probasco, 2022). In Guyana, our new oil and gas producer in the Caribbean and South American region, the government committed GY$96.1 billion [US$459 million] for fast-tracked infrastructure development which is part of a GY$552.9 billion 2022 Budget allocation [US$2.64 billion]. The two contrasting examples are for infrastructure capital allocation, but the allocation of big budgets for development can be related to individual businesses as well. Vast opportunities exist for countries and industries, particularly along the growth pole in the Caribbean region—Guyana—, but also CARICOM countries and the northern South American region, to embrace innovative technologies to support growth and sustainability for all participating members.

    How do we adopt digital transformation in our countries or businesses to create efficiencies? On a governmental scale, countries have adopted e-government programs to better serve the public and for increasing economic growth and development. At the business scale, opportunities exist for quicker adoption of digital transformation in fields such as manufacturing and supply chain management. Digital transformation may be described as the process of using digital technologies to create new or modify existing business processes, culture and customer experiences to meet changing business and market requirements (Salesforce, 2022) through changes in practice and behaviours or change management. It considers how products, processes and organisations can be changed through the use of new digital technologies (Wikipedia, 2022).

    Digital Twin

    In the process of digital transformation, a “Digital Twin” may be used as an enabler to help model digital processes and be used for decision making. The Digital Twin is described as a virtual representation of an object or system that spans its lifecycle, is updated from real-time data and uses simulation, machine learning and reasoning to help decision-making (IBM, 2022). It is not merely a 3D visualisation model! There is a responsibility within industries, however, to consider where in the business there can be efficiencies, and how to develop a business case for implementing innovative technologies.

    Regarding big budgetary allocations for development, opportunities exist in “smart” infrastructure, where infrastructure management is realised through digitalised site information systems. New, during and after-construction phases for infrastructure projects can be digitised and managed in extended-reality metaverse platforms. Similarly, built infrastructure from upstream and downstream oil and gas sectors and cultural heritage assets can utilise Digital Twins. To manage disasters, and maintenance of aged and neglected infrastructure, the Digital Twin can be essential. Other key areas for application include civil, construction and geotechnical engineering, surface and subsurface resource extraction, geohazard and environmental engineering, land and asset management, energy and utilities, and archeology and cultural heritage.

    Implementation of Digital Twin processes requires the development of a business case for innovation and collaboration, and for driving productivity by removing silos. These processes rely on people and on new ways of communication with the goal of realising value in operations. Digital Twin technology is expected to drive industry 4.0 initiatives through various processes as it offers a platform for measurement and control, especially for capital projects. Senior leaders may also have an opportunity to directly manage capital cost and delivery through Digital Twin collaboration platforms. End users and operators, team leaders and managers alike can be part of the overall implementation process.

    The establishment of a Digital Twin technology into an organisation remains a process, hence many companies may struggle initially with its implementation. Some fail but many succeed by learning from their failures. Cyber security also becomes an important part of the process, especially for cloud computing but with the right security protocols, the risk can be significantly reduced. Digital Twin technologies can also be implemented in any industry that manages aggressive goals for the National Determined Contributions as they relate to the Paris Agreement.

    CERDiT - The Center for Energy Resources and Digitalization Technologies. Contact: stanley.wharton@cerdit.biz or www.cerdit.biz

    References

    Cornelissen, B., Y. Barkawie and Y. Fansa, 2019. Standing still is not an option. Perspectives, Deloitte, Middle East.

    IBM, 2022. What is a Digital Twin? What is a digital twin? | IBM.

    Probasco, J, 2022. Understanding Infrastructure Legislation. Understanding the Recent Infrastructure Legislation (investopedia.com).

    Salesforce, 2022. What is Digital Transformation? Why Is It Important - Salesforce.com

    Wharton, S, 2022. Digital Twin Technology, an Enabler in the Digital Transformation Journey. 3rd Annual Guyana International Petroleum Business Summit. GIPEX 2022.

    Wharton, S, 2022. Management of Caribbean Infrastructural Assets using Digitalized Technology Solutions. Caribbean Oil and Gas Virtual Summit. CARIVS 2022.

    Wharton, S, 2020. Importance of Technology amidst the changing dynamics of how the upstream, midstream and downstream work. Caribbean Inaugural Virtual Oil and Gas Conference. CARIVS 2020.

    Wikipedia, 2022. Digital transformation - Wikipedia.

    World Energy Council, 2020. A vital transformation of global energy systems is underway. World_Energy_Council_-_Covid_2nd_Global_Survey_Results_-_FINAL.pdf (worldenergy.org).

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR


    Stanley R Wharton is the CEO of CERDiT – Center for Energy Resources and Digitalization Technologies


  • 25 Jun 2022 8:31 PM | Kennedy Maraj (Administrator)

    LINKAGE Q1 (2022) - BREAK THE BIAS

    Deconstructing Societal Masquerades in Our Workspaces

    (Increasing productivity through inclusion and diversity)

    By Sharon A. E. Mottley

    One of the wonders of Trinidad and Tobago’s culture is Carnival. History records that the modern Carnival began in this country in the late 18th century . The two-day festival of masquerading is officially celebrated annually on the Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Lenten season. However, in true “Trini” style, Carnival in Trinidad and Tobago unofficially starts following elaborate Old Year’s Night fetes at the Hilton Hotel and other similar settings.

    In reality, for a small segment of Trinbagonians (an estimated 3%) who reside in this multicultural, complex twin-island state, the concept of masquerade extends way beyond the two days that encompass J’Ouvert morning’s “dutty Mas” and Monday and Tuesday’s finest costumes. I refer to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and/or questioning, intersex, asexual and/or agender, or as we are commonly known, the LGBTQIA+ community. While most LGBTQIA+ or Queer folk have mastered the art of skillfully donning our “masks” all 365 days of the year, many of you know us quite well, for we are your mothers, fathers, children, siblings, co-workers, teachers, spiritual leaders, CEOs, janitors, barbers, stylists, husbands and wives. As you continue to read, take this opportunity to walk in the shoes of those who, though we love differently, share many of the same aspirations as our heterosexual counterparts, particularly as these pertain to familial, educational and career aspirations.

    I applaud AMCHAM T&T for doing what is right through the Break the Bias panel on March 11, 2022, and now in its annual women’s empowerment Linkage Magazine’s edition themed “Break the Bias” focusing on “how organisations can make their workplaces safer and more empowering for LGBTQIA+ employees”.

    MASK VS AUTHENTIC SELF

    While there is a great deal in the way of published literature, which I will reference throughout, I deliberately started this piece with something familiar, that is, Carnival. Whether you are a masquerader or observer, you understand the process — tremendous hype by all genders as we get our “kits” or costumes ready for every event during the season. From head to toe, we don our “masks” including elaborate/edgy hairstyles, well made-up faces, lashes longer than long time, and outfits to disguise or accentuate — we all don our masks. The big finale begins at 4:00 am J’Ouvert morning, (mud, powder, cocoa, clay, blue devil, Dame Lorraine) all the way through the last lap Tuesday night. As darkness descends, we waylay to our respective abodes and commence the arduous task of removing the façade and detoxing from all that we consumed, in a veiled attempt to revert to our “normal” selves by Wednesday morning. Come Ash Wednesday, CEO and custodian alike enter their places of worship and receive Lenten crosses on their foreheads, symbolically erasing all the transgressions that may have transpired over the season, much of which negatively affected productivity levels for two, perhaps three months. But we are accustomed, it is “we” culture and it’s how we masquerade.

    In sharp contrast, sexual minorities rarely, if ever, are allowed to remove their masks and live their “normal” or in their “truth”. That is the dilemma that many sexual minorities face within this culturally biased, classist, stigma-driven societal notion of normality. Many of us maintain the façade within our own homes and almost all of us must don it when we exit our houses to engage in the world at large.

    If the bulk of our waking hours is spent at work or school, then imagine for five minutes being in a workspace where you spend between eight to 12+ hours for a minimum of five days a week and not being able to share any aspect of who you really are — your authentic self.

    Many of us while on the job may get a call about an ill and/or hospitalised spouse who requires our presence/assistance/support. Imagine having to think twice or concoct an excuse to apply for leave to be by their side. What about those of us with pregnant female partners, is maternity/paternity leave an option for us? Perhaps you had a suicidal “queer” child and would welcome support from your employer, or workplace EAP. Maybe you have just celebrated an anniversary and you want to post framed pictures on your desk like your fellow colleagues but have to wonder, is this even a consideration? And let us not talk about what passes as routine office banter when it comes to jokes and picong, that include words like “buller”, “faggot”, “shim”, “he/she” etc., even when we know it is wrong or it makes us and/or others in the workplace uncomfortable. In lieu of clear organisational policy, we oftentimes facilitate or contribute to this behaviour by an embarrassed giggle or quietly turning our heads.

    Again, imagine what it is like to show up as your best self in a workplace where you can only afford to function as an “imposter” and not your authentic self. Especially when those we work alongside do not bear a similar burden. To do well and excel, usually at the cost of our mental well-being, many of us have mastered the art of this double existence. However, is it fair that we are required to give our all to employers and workplaces that are complicit in maintaining and/or reinforcing negative gender stereotypes and hostile work environments for LGBTQIA+ employees?

    CORPORATE RESPONSIBILTY

    In 2022, organisations and workplaces have a responsibility to inculcate and sustain an empowering work environment for all employees. Michaela Krejcova points out in their article, The value of LGBT equality in the workplace , the benefits of inclusivity and diversity to both individual employees as well as employers. In terms of the former, they highlight that “LGBT-supportive policies will have an immediate effect on individual people, resulting in less discrimination and increased openness about being LGBT.” Krejcova further references a survey conducted by the Williams Institute, “The Business Impact of LGBT-Supportive Workplace Policies”, which cites that “LGBT employees who spend considerable time and effort hiding their identity in the workplace, experience higher levels of stress and anxiety resulting in health problems and work-related complaints. Ultimately, LGBT-friendly workplaces can lead to improved health, increased job satisfaction, better relationships with co-workers and supervisors, and greater work commitment among the LGBT workers.”

    Camille Brouard notes in a June 2021 article , that LGBTQIA+ inclusive workplaces benefit businesses in terms of productivity and profitability. She further references an American study by Out Now titled “LGBT 2020 – LGBT Diversity Show Me the Business Case”, which found that the “US economy could save nine billion annually if organisations implemented more effective inclusion policies for their LGBTQ+ staff. This is partially attributed to avoiding costs from stress and ill-health associated with LGBTQ+ staff who need to hide their identity at work or experience discrimination.” The study also highlights the customer loyalty and buying power of the LGBTQIA+ market and that “customers are likelier to leave businesses who have cases of discrimination made public.” It can be gleaned from an ongoing investigation on LGBTQIA+ workplace diversity that assertive inclusion strategies make sense from both a business perspective as well as an ethical one.


    HOW DO WE CREATE A CULTURE OF INCLUSION?

    The next obvious question for Trinidad and Tobago enterprises is, how do we go about creating a culture of diversity and inclusion? I would purport that an initial step would require a thorough organisational assessment and evaluation with a view toward eradicating existing discriminatory/prohibitive systems, norms and practices, and intentionally adopting a culture of inclusivity. The good news is there is an abundance of resources available; there is no need to reinvent the wheel. For example, Great Place to Work & Pride At Work Canada developed “Beyond Diversity: An LGBT Best Practice Guide for Employers”, which articulates what they see as the “top 12 Strategies to Promote Inclusion of LGBT People in the Workplace”. Below I have highlighted five strategies that an organisation can implement in the short to medium term to initiate the process of LGBTQIA+ inclusion and diversity:

    1. Modeling a culture of inclusivity. This begins at the top with senior and executive management championing the initiative. There is no such thing as an inclusive workplace without an inclusive leadership team. Regardless of the development and implementation of policies and programmes, inclusion efforts will not gain traction if the behaviour is not modelled at the most senior level.

    2. Developing and effectively communicating written policies. Policy development is a surefire way to demonstrate your organisation’s commitment because it establishes standards and expectations for behaviour and clearly outlines that harassment, discrimination etc. will not be tolerated. Rather than cutting and pasting from “foreign”, I recommend the engagement of local professionals who can actively engage stakeholders and craft policies reflecting cultural sensitivity and relevancy. It is also important that anti-discrimination and harassment policies specifically reflect sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression as prohibited grounds for discrimination, and provide examples of what homophobic, biphobic and transphobic discrimination looks like. Policies should be easily accessible and should set out roles and responsibilities for compliance.

    3. Adopting and utilising gender-neutral language in internal and external communication. For example, rather than “he” or “he/she”, it is acceptable and preferred to use “they” as a singular gender natural. This ensures that people who don’t identify as either a man or a woman feel that they are represented in written and oral communication.

    4. Ensuring that the company’s benefits package is relevant to all employees. This speaks to the heart of most employees. To ensure your benefits package meets the needs of LGBTQIA+ employees, it is important to understand their specific needs related to medical coverage, parental leave, bereavement, etc.

    5. Training, training, training. This point can not be overemphasised. To ensure and sustain a cultural shift within your organisation, system implementation and organisation-wide diversity training are essential in soliciting buy-in and support throughout the company. Training can take many shapes and forms and should be an ongoing process, particularly as emerging diversity issues arise.

    In closing, I invite us, Trinidad and Tobago, to join our progressive Caribbean and global counterparts in dismantling organisational systems and structures that cause harm. I invite us to intentionally move towards business practices that truly reflect and embrace the people that we employ and serve, and that add value and profitability to our enterprise.

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Sharon A. E. Mottley is a Human and Social Development Consultant


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