AMCHAM T&T’s 7th Women’s Leadership Conference 2021
March 17th, 2021 | Related To: AMERICAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE OF TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO (AMCHAM T&T) | Related To: Scotiabank
Wendy-Fae Thompson, Vice President and Managing Counsel, bpTT and Anya Schnoor Executive Vice President, Caribbean, Central America and Uruguay, International Banking, Scotiabank
AMCHAM T&T’s 7th Women’s Leadership Conference 2021
Remarks by Anya Schnoor – Executive Vice President, Caribbean, Central America and Uruguay, International Banking, Scotiabank
Hello everyone. 2021 is now our 7th year partnering with AMCHAM as the platinum sponsor of the Women’s Leadership Conference. This conference is certainly a great opportunity for us to engage with each other, share ideas and experiences, advocate for the advancement of women, and share best practices pertaining to diversity and inclusion.
Choose to challenge is the theme for this year’s International Women’s Day. For me, this means challenging norms and calling out gender biases and inequality. We all share this collective responsibility and it is the only way to bring about change and create an inclusive world where everyone feels respected and valued.
As some of you may know, I had the great privilege of working in Trinidad & Tobago between 2012 and 2017, as the then Managing Director of Scotiabank. During my 5 years in the country I grew to admire its people, the rich diversity of its culture, music, and of course food. I so miss Panorama, especially the semi-finals.
During those 5 years I met many young women across the country who were brilliant, ambitious, and hopeful about the future. They saw the struggles that women that came before them had – lack of role models in key industries, and a need for society to have tough conversations about abuse and the stigma of speaking up.
The work continues and I know we still have much to accomplish in the struggle for equality and justice.
When I spoke to AMCHAM in 2014 I was asked then to share some of my views on what it takes to be successful, and what were some of the challenges I’d overcome in my own career. I spoke then about the need to define your own definition of success and not let society or your own doubts about your abilities hold you back from taking a risk with your career. This view has not changed.
When I left Trinidad & Tobago to move to Canada in 2017, I knew then that I was taking another calculated risk with my career. While I was going to still be working for Scotiabank, I was moving to a new country, a new part of the bank, leading a new team. This move created many questions – “Why was the bank promoting someone from the Caribbean”, “What did she know about Canada?”, and “How would she fit in to this country?”. I had my own doubts.
If I was to be completely honest with myself, I never expected to be promoted to the head office of the bank. My own insecurities of growing up in a small town, in a small country, started to creep into my psyche. But then I remembered Bob Marley, Usain Bolt, Miss Lou, Calypso Rose,
and Jean Pierre, all of whom, charted their own definition of success and let nothing stand in their way.
As one of my heroes Maya Angelou once said, “If you’re always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.” So, I embraced this new challenge and made the best of it. I built a new team, challenged the status quo, and learned new things along the way. I’ve come to appreciate the diversity of Canada, its openness to immigrants, and its willingness to take a chance on new ideas, their appreciation for diversity of thought.
So, when I was asked in November of last year to take on a new challenge and help our Caribbean and Central America region recover from the effects of this global pandemic I jumped at the opportunity.
In some way this new role is me coming back full circle to my home and to the people that I love.
The challenge in front of us as we collectively try to navigate the impact in our various countries is not simple or straightforward. But this is where I feel the Caribbean has such untapped potential.
I have always felt its important to build a diverse team around you. Successful leaders are only as good as the people they surround themselves with. If you only surround yourself with people that think and act like you, then you’ll never get the quality and diversity of ideas you need to be truly great.
Leadership is about inspiring others to see your vision and then helping them go after that vision. To come out on the other side of this pandemic, we are going to need that diversity of thought around us. We are going to need an inclusive culture that embraces different views and seeks to challenge the status quou. We are going to need each other.
I encourage therefore our leaders across the region to work collectively together in a truly one region approach to find solutions for the ravages of this terrible pandemic.
In closing I leave you with a few final thoughts. It has become increasingly important to me as I have progressed in my career that I wanted to work for an organization that truly values diversity and equality in the workplace.
I wanted to work for an organization which allows women the choice to make decisions which best suit them.
It is not by chance that the senior management team of Scotiabank Trinidad and Tobago is made up of 50% women. Or that as a publicly listed company we have one of the highest percentages of women represented on our board.
As an organization globally, we have made diversity and inclusion a key strategic priority because we believe that for women to achieve success there needs to be a fundamental shift in the way we view women and their importance to the success of any organization.
We have had to recognize that the issues which have prevented women from achieving success are real and are not related to whether men or women make better leaders. The issues will not be addressed overnight and indeed they have taken far too long to come to a conclusion.
However, through better understanding and communication and a lot of hard work we can achieve the success we have all been striving for.
It is important we act now. I choose to challenge for this reason. Because a world without diversity of opinion and a world where people can’t feel respected and valued goes against the type of inclusive world, I want to live in.
I really want to thank you for having me here today and for the team for all their hard work in putting this event together. Enjoy the rest of your celebration.
Amcham Women in Leadership Conference 2021
Date: Friday 12 March 2021
Time: Opening Ceremony is 10:30 – 11:30 and sponsor’s remarks is 10:50 – 11:00am
Sponsor’s remarks Delivered by: Wendy-Fae Thompson, Vice President and Managing Counsel, bpTT
- • Dr. the Honourable Nyan Gadsby-Dolly – Minister of Education
- • Patricia Ghany – President of AMCHAM T&T
- • Members of the. U.S. Diplomatic Corps.
- • His Excellency Sharad Kumar Gupta – High Commissioner of Canada to Trinidad and Tobago
- • Board of Directors and CEO of AMCHAM T&T
- • Our Distinguished Speakers and Panelists
- • Fellow sponsors and partners
- • Participants
- • Members of the Media
BP Trinidad and Tobago is honoured to once again support the Amcham Women’s Leadership Conference as we commemorate International Women’s Day. March 8 marked the 110th celebration of International Women’s Day. It’s certainly been a long journey to gender parity and whilst the world has been on this journey for a long time and has achieved great progress there is still so much more to be done to reach gender parity. The 2020 World Economic Forum on gender parity advises that at the current pace it will take us close to 100 years to achieve full gender parity. Ladies and gentlemen, we can’t wait that long.
This Conference is significant to us at BP as we aim to be very intentional on how we continue to develop diverse talent within our population and hopefully be an influence to other companies in Trinidad and Tobago. This Conference therefore is not only intended to provide the opportunity for us as women and men to pause and reflect on our journey to date, but also to refresh the call to action beyond this event to ensure that real progress is made now towards the advancement of women in the workplace.
We are meeting at a time in which there is increased focus on violence against women in our society. Women are still struggling for respect and equality not only in the workplace but in our daily lives. The recent protests in Trinidad as a result of Andrea Bharath’s death and the many feminist groups and movements worldwide that are making their voices heard on racial and other injustices are a testament to the fact that the world is becoming less tolerant of inequality and our stakeholders now not only expect us to be more inclusive but will demand it from us. No doubt our workplace is a microcosm of the society in which we live. Thus, how society
views our women and girls invariably transcends how we are treated at work, at home, in school, by our peers, family and our social institutions.
As I reflect on our journey at BPTT, what is clear is that gender equity ambition requires continued regular focus and attention in order to tackle unconscious and conscious bias, dismantle cultural norms and effectively change mindsets.
We have established women’s networks in almost all the jurisdictions in which we operate aimed at focusing on initiatives geared at addressing gender-bias issues. Through the unrelenting push from these organizations we have not only set targets for more female representation at the recruitment stage, front line, middle and senior levels but also in the boardroom. Our current data shows that we are making steady progress towards our ambition. I feel proud that we are almost at gender parity on our senior leadership team with 5 females and 6 males and a female president. But what’s absolutely clear is that we still have work to do and we need all hands on deck to fully achieve success. It will require our team leaders to ensure they understand and address the challenges women face in their teams; it will require our senior management to deliberately build out opportunities for training and development for our female population especially in disciplines that have typically been filled by males. It will require our male population seeing themselves as allies in the pursuit of gender equity and accepting that progress towards gender equity is not a zero-sum game and that women advancing in their careers does not equate to men losing their power and influence. It will take you and me to be fired up in all aspects of how we operate within our organizations to really move the dial on progress.
Don’t let today’s event be a kumbaya moment where we commiserate, repeat the same promises and merely share experiences. I choose to challenge each of you that it is your responsibility on where we go next on this journey. The ripple effect that benefits everyone occurs in how we think, how we talk and act in our daily lives both at work and outside the workplace.
Over the next few hours, both the organizational and personal facets to women in leadership will be explored. It is important that we find the right balance I look forward to valuable discussion tempered with actions that will achieve real progress that we can report on next time we meet.
To AMCHAM – congratulations on organizing what I am sure will be an insightful conference.