Good afternoon everyone.
I am Toni Sirju-Ramnarine, President of AMCHAM T&T.
It is my pleasure to wish you a warm welcome to the launch of the AMCHAM T&T and IDB's 5th Women in Leadership Mentorship Programme.
I would like to begin by offering my sincere gratitude to the Inter-American Development Bank for their continued partnership and support to empower women through this mentorship programme.
I would also like to thank our class of mentees. Thank you for recognizing the importance of this programme and choosing to participate this year.
And to our mentors, some of whom, I understand was part of our distinguished list of speakers at our recent Women's Leadership Conference, and others who were part of last year's Mentorship class. Thank you once more for offering your knowledge and wisdom to help support younger women in their future career prospects.
We often hear about the barriers preventing women from progressing and claiming success in their chosen careers and throughout every aspect of their lives. Rather than dwelling on the problems, AMCHAM T&T would like to shift the focus on the solutions.
The goal should always be to remove these existing barriers with more opportunities so that we are empowering both women and men. At AMCHAM T&T, we believe a diverse workplace and society brings about better outcomes for everyone.
Ultimately, this is what we are hoping to both inspire and achieve with this Mentorship Programme. We aren't saying that this is the only answer to some of these issues, but it is one small step we can take to provide the solutions we need.
You might ask how is this possible.
The answers are never easy or straightforward. But together we can counteract these hidden barriers by making conscious decisions every day to simply show up and offer support, wherever we can.
We can change the rules of the game and create a better game plan where we can ALL succeed, together.
For this to happen, as women, we must seek each other's interests. That means reinforcing greater collaboration to eliminate the competition that pits women against each other, and by extension, all women against men.
When we challenge the status quo we are essentially raising the bar for all women to have clearer and easier paths to reach their fullest potential in life. We can achieve this by helping our sisters to have a different vision for their lives, empowering them to continuously strive for better instead of settling for less, and by current leaders leaving a legacy of support and allyship that will continue to uplift women.
Don't ever forget that we are always stronger when we join forces and come together.
Women have the power to achieve this, but we can't do it alone. This is why lifting barriers and reducing inequalities is a job for EVERYONE. Therefore, we are going to need more men to stand in solidarity with women so that our world becomes a lot more inclusive, a lot more diverse, and ultimately, safer for everyone.
That’s why we hope to see more companies investing in mentorship programmes to foster greater diversity and inclusion in the workplace, strengthen company culture, and improve employee engagement. Companies that invest in mentorship will see the benefits of higher productivity, fewer turnover rates, better succession planning, and increase profits. Ultimately, it comes down to doing the right thing!
Mentorship also provides a platform that allows women to develop their leadership skills, increase their self-confidence, build their social capital, and take ownership of their own personal and professional development. At AMCHAM T&T and the IDB, we see the value in creating these opportunities for women to grow and succeed which is why this programme is a top priority for us.
I can guarantee you that the mentorship journey will pose some challenges and disruptions. It will make you a little uncomfortable at times as you unlearn some of the old and familiar patterns that have prevented your growth and development. But through the careful direction of your mentors, they will gentle guide you away from those restrictive fears and doubts to a place of greater courage and confidence.
And because of this, I can assure you that the outcomes you stand to gain will far outweigh the struggles and discomfort you may experience. Remember nothing worthy comes easy. But with your dedication and commitment to stand strong and face your fears you will soon realise that the only limitations that exist are the limitations you set for yourself.
So, I encourage you to absorb the valuable advice and counsel from your mentors. Let their knowledge and wisdom force you to rethink so many of your beliefs and attitudes. Let it motivate you to accept new challenges that once posed so much fear and anxiety. And don't be afraid to challenge your mentors as well. Growth is a continuous journey and no one person is better than the other or knows everything. So, offer your ideas and suggestions freely to build a strong relationship with your mentors where you are both learning and growing with each other.
This programme holds the promise for all of this, but you will only realize it if you first BELIEVE it. Your decision to register for this programme coupled with your attendance today already shows a promising first step to achieving these rewards.
I wish you much success as you begin this enriching journey.
Before I close, I want to once more thank all our mentors who have stepped up to offer support and solidarity with women to help them stand firm in their worth and value. Thank you for your willingness and enthusiasm to be part of this year's programme.
And finally, thank you to the IDB for showing continuous support and leadership in this programme, and for these issues.
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