BP Trinidad and Tobago is honoured to once again support the Amcham Women’s Leadership Conference as we commemorate International Women’s Day. March 8 marked the 110th celebration of International Women’s Day. It’s certainly been a long journey to gender parity and whilst the world has been on this journey for a long time and has achieved great progress there is still so much more to be done to reach gender parity. The 2020 World Economic Forum on gender parity advises that at the current pace it will take us close to 100 years to achieve full gender parity. Ladies and gentlemen, we can’t wait that long.
This Conference is significant to us at BP as we aim to be very intentional on how we continue to develop diverse talent within our population and hopefully be an influence to other companies in Trinidad and Tobago. This Conference therefore is not only intended to provide the opportunity for us as women and men to pause and reflect on our journey to date, but also to refresh the call to action beyond this event to ensure that real progress is made now towards the advancement of women in the workplace.
We are meeting at a time in which there is increased focus on violence against women in our society. Women are still struggling for respect and equality not only in the workplace but in our daily lives. The recent protests in Trinidad as a result of Andrea Bharath’s death and the many feminist groups and movements worldwide that are making their voices heard on racial and other injustices are a testament to the fact that the world is becoming less tolerant of inequality and our stakeholders now not only expect us to be more inclusive but will demand it from us.
No doubt our workplace is a microcosm of the society in which we live. Thus, how society views our women and girls invariably transcends how we are treated at work, at home, in school, by our peers, family and our social institutions.
As I reflect on our journey at BPTT, what is clear is that gender equity ambition requires continued regular focus and attention in order to tackle unconscious and conscious bias, dismantle cultural norms and effectively change mindsets.
We have established women’s networks in almost all the jurisdictions in which we operate aimed at focusing on initiatives geared at addressing gender-bias issues. Through the unrelenting push from these organizations we have not only set targets for more female representation at the recruitment stage, front line, middle and senior levels but also in the boardroom. Our current data shows that we are making steady progress towards our ambition.
I feel proud that we are almost at gender parity on our senior leadership team with 5 females and 6 males and a female president. But what’s absolutely clear is that we still have work to do and we need all hands on deck to fully achieve success. It will require our team leaders to ensure they understand and address the challenges women face in their teams; it will require our senior management to deliberately build out opportunities for training and development for our female population especially in disciplines that have typically been filled by males. It will require our male population seeing themselves as allies in the pursuit of gender equity and accepting that progress towards gender equity is not a zero-sum game and that women advancing in their careers does not equate to men losing their power and influence. It will take you and me to be fired up in all aspects of how we operate within our organizations to really move the dial on progress.
Don’t let today’s event be a kumbaya moment where we commiserate, repeat the same promises and merely share experiences. I choose to challenge each of you that it is your responsibility on where we go next on this journey. The ripple effect that benefits everyone occurs in how we think, how we talk and act in our daily lives both at work and outside the workplace.
Over the next few hours, both the organizational and personal facets to women in leadership will be explored. It is important that we find the right balance I look forward to valuable discussion tempered with actions that will achieve real progress that we can report on next time we meet.
To AMCHAM T&T – congratulations on organizing what I am sure will be an insightful conference.