LINKAGE Q1 (2021) - Choose To Challenge
By Nirad Tewarie - AMCHAM T&T CEO
Welcome to this issue of Linkage in which we shine the spotlight on Women’s Leadership. This year, the call-to-action from the global women’s movement has asked us to “Choose To Challenge.” The belief is that actively challenging forces us to be more alert and prepared to stop gender bias, violence, and inequality as it happens.
Individually, we all have a part to play to prevent the abuse and discrimination to which many women and girls are often subjected simply because they were born female. We can start this culture of change and healing by simply challenging our own beliefs and actions and comparing these against how we perceive and treat women and girls in our society.
By now, I am sure you have heard the statistics and read all the reports and studies that highlight the many challenges women have to face in our world simply to survive. It’s an unpleasant story that has become an all too familiar reality for many women and girls in recent years. Just a few months ago, our country was plunged into a state of mourning over the senseless murder of one of our nation’s daughters. The memory of Andrea Bharatt, Ashanti Riley before her and so many others before them, continue to highlight how much more we need to do.
To us, in tackling this issue, we have to also address leadership. Leadership play a role in perpetuating inequality. It can also be instrumental in reducing it. Therefore, we believe that we have to simultaneously work on changing the mindset of leaders while at the same time creating more opportunities for female leaders.
But we can’t just wait for change to occur. We must choose to challenge and be change agents. We have that collective power if only we tap into it by making the small, individual, and everyday decisions to challenge ourselves and change the culture.
We can probably start by choosing to challenge our own definitions of masculinity at an early age. An ideal starting point would be to teach our sons to be good, caring, and non-violent men. We don’t even need training on this because we can lead by example. However, creating a culture of non-violence and compassion also helps.
Let’s lead with more emotional intelligence so that our young men can find healthy and non-violent outlets to express their emotions and effectively deal with their feelings of fear, anger, hurt and rejection. Teaching through art, music, drama, gamification and greater utilization of experiential learning as opposed to primarily through blackboards and whiteboards, really is a must.
Let’s also speak about our own experiences and challenge discrimination when we see it. Even if that means calling to attention our own misconduct or highlighting sexist remarks made by our friends or reporting harassment.
The business sector can also do its part by creating a culture of greater inclusion and diversity in the workplace. Gender parity should not just be a goal but a priority to conducting business in 2021. Companies should have no excuse today for not having gender parity at the C-suite level or on their boards. There are a number of highly qualified women who have earned the right to these senior-level positions and we must ensure that we are creating a space for their contributions.
I don’t need to list the number of reasons why this is a good idea. We already know the value that comes from adding diversity to senior positions in our organisations and in this issue of Linkage, you will meet some of these women who are doing incredible things within their respective fields. We cannot lead if we aren’t setting the example so you will also hear how AMCHAM T&T is walking the talk through our efforts to advance opportunities for women in business and in our society.
I hope this issue offers you many insights and a little more hope concerning how we can each choose to challenge and make this world a safer and more equal place so that women and girls can find their voice, contribute successfully and succeed in life.
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