WLC 2023 - Sponsor Remarks by Frances Bain-Cumberbatch (Ansa McAl)

Frances Bain-Cumberbatch - Chief Legal and External Affairs Officer, Ansa Mcal

“I not going no small​ fete, let me extend my apology. Only big fete, with big flag, going overhead like canopy…”

We all remember those lyrics and we also remember how good they made us feel… And the more we jumped with our two hands in the air: “Hey Hey Hey!” the greater we felt, and the more likely it seemed that there was a Road March in the making.

Now Bunji has long proven himself to be a lyrical genius but composing “Hard Fete”, now officially our Road March wasn’t solely his act of individual genius this time. It wasn’t just Bunji with a pen and a sheet of foolscap, writing and rewriting into the wee hours of the morning. It was Bunji and Fay-Ann – our soca power couple, a husband-and-wife team – collaborating, working it out together. 

But some were as we say in Trinidad “vex” that Fay-Ann dared to poke her head into BUNJI’s spotlight. During the season, Bunji himself let us know that she was very much part of the whole thing.. even coaching him on how to deliver this masterpiece on stage to his screaming fans. He would get that “Stan up!” right if it was the last thing she did!

So when he won his first Road March on his own (and not with 3 people) what did he do? He said, no, insisted, She also deserves credit. He posted on social media: “Amazing writing and co-writing between @fayannlyons and I…” He did not do that simply because she was his wife; it was because her input was real, and it was valued. He wasn’t saying I have a great woman behind me… He was saying I have a great woman BESIDE me.

[Good morning Her Excellency Candace A. Bond, President, CEO and directors of AMCHAMTT, fellow sponsors, speakers, Distinguished ladies and gentlemen]

As women in the workplace, we aren’t always given our due. You collaborate, sometimes, at your peril. There are quite a few studies to show that you are likely to be perceived as playing a less influential role when you work with men on a group project. The guys are more likely to be assumed to be the leaders. Sound familiar? 

Interestingly enough, the studies also show that we women attribute less credit to each other in these same situations. 

So what can we do? 

Well, we can wait for our Bunjis, our knights in shining armour, to come along and sing our praises, but as we all know, real workplace Bunjis are few and far between. 

Men of the working world, now is your time to shine. 

We can be more proactive by being vocal about our achievements… “I was able to help the team to see the forest for the trees and everyone pulled together to make it happen. I came up that snazzy phrase, or found an elegant solution to a complex problem.”

But some of us still aren’t comfortable with claiming our work and accepting praise. We leave the chest-beating to the… men. Ladies, our contributions are a big deal. So learn to accept credit for them with humility and aplomb. “Why, thank you,”… Isn’t that empowering? Just letting the weight of a compliment sink in and become yours. 

There are also actions we can take to highlight our contributions. Claim sole ownership of specific and key tasks within a large project. Like I’ll prepare the key slides, I will crunch those numbers, I’ll find the right platform and moment to deliver our findings.

You must also ensure that your contributions are clear to your male collaborators. How you go about doing this is up to you; sometimes it’s a matter of summarizing as soon as the work is freshly completed. “Just to recap today’s session, this is what we set out to do and this is what we achieved.” (You know how they tend to forget!) When your contribution resonates you may find that your male colleagues become allies or even advocates for you. 

We all have something to contribute. But it is not only important that we do it; it is important that we are SEEN to have done it. “We eh come here to Stan up!” I do not deny that there are systemic and deeply entrenched cultural factors that make it necessary for women to fight hard to be validly included. But we must do our part by shaking it up – Making sure we create space for ourselves.

Do not shy away from collaboration. In your workplace, you will always be part of a team, collaboratively striving towards a common goal. Soon your joint project will be complete, and someone might be moved to say: “amazing work, @marysmith.” The correct response, is: “Thank you.” You’ve earned it, and now you must claim it.

Pre-HSSE Conference 2022 Meeting - Hybrid Work - CEO's Speech