Archive for June, 2010

Prayer at Work? The Caribbean Connundrum

June 7, 2010

At Work Do You Call on a higher Power?

Having a hectic work day? Some drink coffee. Others snack. Some take a walk. Me? I drink water *gulp* and say a prayer. Question is, if I invited others to a group prayer at, let’s say lunch time, would it cause a stir? In the Caribbean, not likely.

Whether it is Jah, Jahjah, Allah, Krishnah, God, Jesus, Spiritual Father, Buddah or (insert name of spiritual higher power here), in the Caribbean, prayer has a place in the workplace. Case in point? In a recent post about how to deal with the loss of a coworker, the need to give colleagues time to Grieve and Breathe was discussed. How does that translate to us in the Caribbean, for many, into a spiritual gathering. A recent one I attended included prayer,  verbal tributes and hymns – in the lunch room of a Corporate Office. We communicate our reverence differently in the Caribbean but our respect and love for each other seems to override the differences that make prayer in the workplace so taboo in many North American workplaces.

Prayer groups and religious groups are par for the course in the Caribbean. Trinidad is still “Rainbow Country” a place where Christians join their Muslim brothers in the month of Ramadan fast. Where it is not unexpected to see a person with a cross pendant light deyas for Divali and where Muslims attend Hindu and Protestant weddings. Does that mean we are less pious? Nope. It means we respect differences. Need proof? See and large company’s celebration calendar.

In Trinidad and Tobago every major institution has celebrations for Divali and Christmas – usually within two months of each other! For Indian Arrival Day, we see people of all races in Saris and for Carnival even the most religious can be found tapping a foot to an upbeat soca played during an office lunch hour.

Prayer at work in the Caribbean happens because we respect each others differences. Whether equity in celebration occurs is another matter but at the very least we respect each other’s right to congregate to say a few words of praise.

So when you’re stressed today or when you need a “hand” as we say in the Caribbean, I hope you have a spiritual colleague you can share a moment of prayer with and, guess what? Once it does not take away from your work productivity and expected working hours, chances are, a good leader (boss) may encourage same. Lord knows we all need help – right? 🙂

Weigh in. I know religion can be contraversial but let’s hear how your workplaces embrace (or don’t) display of religion.

Embracing Beauty And Brains?

June 6, 2010

The Caribbean has MANY beautiful bright women. Question is, are we ready to have them succeed for both being gorgeous and being great at what they do professionally? Or are we much more comfortable with our board room bombshells being what many are everyday – conservative in what they say, do and wear?

Case in point. May/June 2010 has so far featured 2 major career highlights for me. 1. Communication World Magazine has

Showcasing Beauty and Brains - Is it too much for us to handle? Nah!

printed an article I wrote on text messaging as an organizational tool (international article publication officially checked off my life long “to do” list. #2 I’m on my 3rd magazine cover (Abstract Magazine) and in the interview once again dodged relationship questions and  personal probes (HA!).  Is being on a magazine cover in a short skirt and featured as a communication nerd too much for some to handle? I say no.

Both are honours. Both are part of who I am. Both put a positive stamp in the Traditional media world. Both help brand women in the Caribbean positively. Question is, while we LOVE to tout beauty and brains in the Caribbean, are we really ready to embrace someone who showcases both concepts?

In my case, I have the pageant background before I became a recognized communications professional so the public tolerates the occasional pic of me in a swimsuit in the newspaper (as ALSO happened this month on the day I was presenting a course on social media management – some students came to class WITH the photo!) or an internet photo (read over 300 photos) of me at parties, events and yes, from fashion shows. But what of the others? You know, the thousands of beautiful, young women being educated across the Caribbean. Are their dreams of being models to be dashed against the rocks of a less than modern mindset?

Can Beauty & Brains be accepted? Ah I hope so!I

Not if Wendy, myself and a few others have anything to do with it. Examples:

Wendy Fitzwilliam, Miss Universe 1998 raised the bar (LITERALLY) by being a lawyer, successful business woman, runway model, print model and this year SCORTCH MAGAZINE centerfold clad in a flower covered bikini in a bed of roses. She looked awesome and the next day I am sure she was

Wendy Is Still a Professional AND she's STILL Hot!

back in the board room. Certainly the less modern among us (or just the damn haters) made a snide comment.

Anya Ayoung Chee, also a past Miss Trinidad and Tobago, has parlayed that fame into a damn hot and fairly successful fashion line. Anya is more than just creative – she’s smart and the cut of her clothes superior to many aspiring designers far beyond the shores of the Caribbean.

Sharon Impbert, Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister (a VERY senior position) has for over two decades graced the catwalks of the Caribbean.

Now begs the question – are you supporting the concept that beauty and brains can both be showcased or do you think we’re still too conservative? In the USA, it is FAR from uncommon to see PLAYBOY PLAYMATES become lawyers (Kimba Wood is now FEDERAL JUDGE WOOD for example), authors (Gloria Steinem feminist writer),doctors and yes, models and actresses. I’m not saying in the Caribbean we are there yet but I’m not certain in this day of rogue amateur photographers and videographers poised to catch any “less than publicly beautiful” moment on the camera, many among us realize the day has come where a photo, posed or candid, can help a professional career as much as winning an award or being published in a scholarly journal.

So weigh in folks. Are we in the Caribbean, island nations with at least 2 women that have been heads of Government, ready to embrace the beauty AND brains? Or should we models just realize the glass ceiling is lower for us?


Flood on de Main Road? Yes Communicator You have a Role

June 2, 2010

Flood on de Main Road is more than a popular Trinidadian rapso by Ataklan about excuses for inability to travel in and around Trinidad and Tobago due to “flooding” – it is a sad reality in Trinidad and Tobago. While flooding is commonly used as an “untruth” to get out of doing necessary tasks in rainy season in Trinidad, the communicator has a role in flood preparation. Not sure? Read below:

Flood on de Main Road in T&T

1. Link up with the Office of Disaster Preparedness: Regardless of the name of your island nation, there is an Office of Disaster Preparedness. Do a Google search and use the results ask to be added to their email list. Follow them on Twitter (T&T link) and Facebook .In Trinidad we’re on both! Kudos to their team!

2. Follow international and local news services to keep abreast of information as it is made public. Share only information that has been ratified and obtained from the most credible sources. Don’t assume because “its on TV” it is true. When it comes to emergency warning, it is important to avoid sensationalism and to share reports VERBATIM where possible to avoid bias.

3. Have a communication plan ratified by your CEO and management team. You don’t want the flood warning to happen and the person required to sign off on the all staff communication is in a meeting. Plan and Prepare people – have a system approved in advance.

4. Have  a system established for communicating with staff members that may not be “in front of” their computers or logged on. A text messaging programme would be the best way to reach team members that may be on the move or not connected to internal communication system. Don’t forget you can also communicate WITHOUT being attached to your chair  – a walk around helps!

5. Have a plan for AFTER the floods. Will your company help staff affected? What is the leave policy? What can STAFF Do outside of policy to assist? What about assisting communities? What insurance does the company have for employee volunteers?

Seems like a lot of questions? Yes it is. Answer them before there’s a flood or else your communication professional reputation will be swept out with the dirty water.