AMCHAM T&T/IDB Women in Leadership Mentorship Programme 2020
PRESIDENT OF AMCHAM T&T
Good Afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen and Happy New Year to everyone.
It brings me great pleasure to welcome you today to celebrate the completion of another successful AMCHAM T&T/ IDB Women in Leadership Mentorship Program.
I really want to offer my gratitude to our mentees and mentors for making this 3rdMentorship Class the huge success that it was.
I know this past year has been challenging for many of us. So much of what we once knew to be familiar and routine were replaced by new norms and practices that many of us weren’t ready for.
A lot has definitely changed in the last year, but I am happy to see the sheer resilience and commitment that each of you has made towards completing this program in spite of the many disruptions during the past year. You definitely deserve high praise for that.
In her bestselling book, “She Wins, You Win”, Gail Evans, CNN’s first female executive vice president writes “The path to success begins with this single most important rule: Every time a woman succeeds in business, every other woman's chance of succeeding in business increases.”
This is why our Mentorship Programme remains very important to all of us here at AMCHAM T&T and at the IDB. At the launch of this year’s programme, I said to you that if we want gender equality in the workplace and beyond, it is up to women to share knowledge, offer support and guidance, and increase the opportunities for other women if they are in a position to do so.
I continue to believe in this message. If there is one takeaway you have learned from this mentorship, I hope it is this. Because we know, when women commit to supporting each other in the workplace we create the safe spaces women need to shed their fears and doubts, and build trust and confidence in themselves. Once this happens, they are inspired to speak out more, step out of their comfort zones and aspire to senior and leadership roles. Essentially, when women support each other, we are building the next generation of female CEOs and global leaders.
Why is this so important you may ask? Well just look at the story of every woman in the world. It’s a familiar tale of overcoming insurmountable obstacles and barriers to survive and succeed. Whether she is leading a Fortune 500 company or running the household while taking care of the kids, women around the world have had to battle a minefield of inequality, discrimination, and sexism. And sometimes that’s just to get her voice heard.
Certainly, this isn’t the future we want as we hope to transition to a post-COVID-19 world. This pandemic has forced so many to adapt to unfamiliar behavior and explore innovative pivots to stay alive and remain relevant. I expect some things will return to normal but at the same time, there are some things of the past that we must ensure stays in the past.
We should not have to keep talking about a world where gender parity locally has less than 25% female participation at the C-suite level and even less when it comes to representation at the board level.
We should not have to report on women having to fight for equal pay for equal work, losing out on promotions because they made the choice to start a family, or enforcing zero-tolerance policies against sexual harassment and other workplace discrimination.
And we should not have to mourn the tragic loss of yet another woman who falls victim to intimate partner or gender-based violence.
Moving forward we can't just keep talking about these issues with no real change. We must ensure these problems are thrown into the dustbins of history, once and for all. A COVID free world cannot see us continuing to treat women as inferior, unequal, or as property. It’s not even a matter of finding the solution. We know the solution. It’s just a matter of finding the willpower and the humanity to do what we know is right.
I am proud to say at AMCHAM T&T this has really been one of the major pillars of our work and advocacy. I have said it many times before and will say it again. Fighting for equality for us isn’t just a male or female issue but an issue of fairness that just happens to also make good economic sense and is a necessary element towards building a progressive, fully democratic society.
The Women’s Mentorship Programme is just one element of us fulfilling this goal. Today, as I speak to you - our largest cohort of mentees to participate in the programme - I am assured that many see the great value of this initiative and understand why it is we need to support women.
That is why I want to encourage all our mentors and mentees today to continue motivating, continue inspiring and never stop helping your sister who stands in your shadows. Remember she is looking up at you and she is going to need your support to help her overcome her struggles and doubts so that she can realize her dreams and achieve success.
We must know that there is real power in the pack when we stay united. Remember when we raise each other up and channel the power of collaboration, we change the game for all of us!
Earlier, I quoted Gail Evans' message about the path to success. As I close, let me end with another quote from her book. She also says:
“Every time a woman fails in business, every other woman's chance of failure increases.”
So, I want you to remember this the next time you see a younger subordinate struggling or the next time you accept “no” or don’t speak up. As we continue to find a way past this pandemic, I urge you to continue sharing, continue to offer your support and guidance, and don’t be afraid to reach out for help. We can only enact sustainable change when we know there is a problem. Nobody wins in silence or when we stand alone.
Before I leave, I want to thank our friends at the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) for their commitment once again to partner with us on this mentoring programme. We look forward to the continued collaboration on this initiative. I also want to thank my Board of Directors and CEO, Nirad Tewarie for continuing to show strong leadership on this very important issue. And to Miss Rey-Anne Paynter and everyone at the Secretariat for their hard work and dedication they have put into this programme. And finally, thank you to our class of mentees and mentors. The success of this programme could not have been imagined without your support and participation. I hope this programme proved to be beneficial to your career goals and in many other ways. So, let's stay connected to change the world.
Thank you so much, and please stay safe everyone.
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