Media Release - AMCHAM T&T President Calls For Active Commitment To Gender Equity In The Post Pandemic Workforce

The American Chamber of Commerce of Trinidad and Tobago (AMCHAM T&T) in partnership with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) launched the fourth Annual Women in Leadership Mentorship Programme on May 26th. The programme was originally conceived in 2017 with the IDB as part of AMCHAM T&T’s commitment to empower women and promote gender parity and women’s leadership in business.

At the launch, Patricia Ghany, AMCHAM T&T President says the pandemic has triggered a huge threat to women’s participation in the workforce. “Experts are calling it the “she-cession” era where the fear is that more women would remain unemployed once the pandemic is over.”

Ghany warns that companies hoping to progress beyond the pandemic must stop the “she-cession” by finding ways to ensure that more women return to the workforce post-pandemic. “Picking up the pieces and moving forward cannot come at the expense and disposal of our women from the labour force,” Ghany says. “We have come too far as a society to be making the same mistakes we did in the past. That’s why I am saying that every company today must increase their diversity mandate and ensure that women are retained in their previous positions.”

However, Ghany says companies must go a step further and begin the process of hiring more women and providing more leadership opportunities for them to succeed professionally once the pandemic is over. She says COVID-19 is showing that the world needs more women leaders. “A new future is currently unfolding, one that needs to take into account the skills, leadership and resources provided by women,” Ghany says. "Therefore, there is no reason why women should not have a place or position in the boardrooms across every company and corporation in the world."

The AMCHAM T&T President believes mentorship programs can assist in this regard because they dismantle the roadblocks women face when they ask for more or try to ascend the corporate ladder. “Companies providing mentorship as a career accelerator are showing women that they value their contributions, respect their voices, and are willing to invest in women to help them grow and achieve success.” Ghany says she hopes to see more glass ceilings being shattered in a post-pandemic world. “When that happens, women will know that the opportunities exist for them to find their voice, claim their space, and lead with success.”

Carina Cockburn, Country Manager to Trinidad and Tobago at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) also says the pandemic has severely impacted women, especially across six Caribbean countries according to a recent IDB study. “The findings showed that women have reported more job losses during the pandemic than men because of the types of roles and positions that they are employed in,” Cockburn says.

In addition, “there has been an unfortunate increase in the incidence of reported domestic violence. In Trinidad and Tobago, that increase is estimated at 13.6%. In addition to that, we found that female-headed households have lower financial resilience with no access to bank accounts and savings.”

Cockburn says when dealing with these issues, mentorship programmes are one means which the IDB has used to help women. “The mandate of the IDB is on improving lives in Latin America and the Caribbean, and we certainly see mentorship as one strategy to help us achieve this goal,” Cockburn says. “The impact of mentorship extends beyond those who directly participate, but in turn, to those whom you interface with and apply the skills and knowledge that you gain from the program. So, it really has a kind of multiplier effect, which is what we're looking for.”

The 4th Cycle of the AMCHAM T&T/IDB Women in Leadership Mentorship programme will be held entirely virtually again this year due to the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Twenty-eight (28) women working in various fields across the private sector have signed up to be matched with a mentor aligned to their career goals in this year’s cohort. Mentorship opportunities are being offered to women across all sectors and industries, including, Science & Mathematics, Technology, Engineering and Economics, Occupational Health and Safety etc.

The Women in Leadership Mentorship Programme will run from June through November 2021. For more information on the program, please visit our website or contact Rey-Anne Paynter-Mendez

Click to read Patricia Ghany's full speech at the Launch of the AMCHAM T&T/IDB 4th Annual Women in Leadership Mentorship Programme.

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