By Stuart Franco
President | AMCHAM T&T


Recently, both DEI and ESG initiatives have become synonymous with backlash and condemnation, reflecting growing public skepticism and criticism. It’s no secret that these terms originated from legitimate concerns about companies' sincerity and commitment to sustainability and social responsibility. However, we have seen what was once heralded as welcoming and promising initiatives become unfairly politicised and weaponised to undermine genuine efforts and progress that companies and countries are making to be more inclusive and ethical.

Because of this, ESG and DEI initiatives have faced many challenges. A lot of the division against DEI policies manifests along the lines of gender, race, class, sex, religion, and geography, whereby people seem to act out their worst thoughts and fears rather than peacefully find solutions to everyday problems. 

Simply put, these divisions impede progress and undermine our collective humanity. That’s why the urgent desire to “Inspire Inclusion” in every aspect of our lives is now a major priority. I believe we can do this by changing how we see each other. This starts with recognising that every human being is deserving of respect and love, regardless of their differences.

Essentially, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” Romans 13:8.

Therefore, a welcoming and inclusive future is one where every woman has a basic right to feel safe in both their physical and virtual spaces. The impetus now is to create a cultural change in our language and mindset and how crime impacts our lives. We must stop shaming survivors and victims and bring the real perpetrators to justice. We have to reject harmful stereotypes and prioritise empathy, equality and compassion.

In the workplace, “Inspiring Inclusion” isn’t about fulfilling DEI quotas just to boost our corporate image or brand. It’s about creating a workplace culture that values ability and creates a true sense of belonging for every employee. For me, that means building a diverse workforce where everyone is treated with respect and fairness and is psychologically safe.
Similarly, ESG investing works best when we replace competition with collaboration. Now is the time we all have to work together, not just to rebuild public trust, but to ensure that we are creating a world where sustainable practices can breed greater innovation to influence more positive change throughout every corner of our society.

Instead of being weighed down by the many challenges associated with ESG and DEI investments, we have to remember why we chose this path. The goal is to inspire inclusion and build sustainable and ethical business practices to protect people and planet.

Remember, it's crucial to recognise that the backlash against DEI and ESG underscores the importance and significance of the work being done. If both initiatives were not perceived as threatening the status quo or challenging entrenched interests, they would not elicit such strong reactions. Therefore, if we are “ruffling a few feathers”, then we are doing our job.

So, as we explore these two important topics in this issue of LINKAGE, I ask that we continue to come together, leverage our collective resources and influence, and recommit ourselves to the principles DEI and ESG to create a better world for current and future generations.