Monday, January 24, 2011

Call for action - Improve the accountability and transparency in Jamaica today for better business ethics.

Jane had this on her Facebook page - I had to share - we MUST do better!
by Jane Branding on Friday, January 21, 2011 at 11:13am

As a US business owner I often champion new ventures, I was eager to promote the premiere of the Jamaican Blog Awards, which I felt was a great Tech initiative. I pushed the venture to many of my clients as "a great Jamaican project". Pegasus,LIME and NCB had sponsored so I believed it had integrity. My excitement and anticipation soon morphed into perplexity and then anger at the way a potentially worthy International boost seems to have been turned into an insular self aggrandizing and palm greasing for small coteries.

This letter is a call to action to Jamaica professionals to make changes and demand accountability. At the Top 5 reveal show (1/3/2011), the process has been fraught with discrepancies and anomalies. One category had only four, and no explanation was given for this. One category ended up with two blogs by the same person in the Top 5, giving that individual twice the opportunity of competing blogs. If entries were limited, that would be another matter, but with over 276 blogs initially presented, it simply should not be the case.

This obvious lack of screening was compounded when at the Top 5 Reveal, it was announced that the public would then be subjected to a second round of voting, both online and via text, presumably to allow sponsor LIME the opportunity to recoup funds (text votes cost J$25 a pop). This ran counter to the previously posted procedure on the Jamaica Blog awards site, which did not specify that more than one round of public voting would ensue. Many of the globally popular sites like www.jamaicansmusic.com lost. Even though they collected over 40 million hits on their blog over the past 6 months and boasts roughly 250,000 fans on their Facebook page. The feedback was also off the charts racking up over 600 likes, tweets and comments on their voting page, on their first day of promotion. Interesting? (FYI I am not a blogger nor do I have a vested interest in any of the blog in the competition).

January 16, the awards were presented without any summary from the Judges, without the public having any idea who the judges were and without any idea of the final tally of votes. One winner taking the podium smarmily thanked the “Old Girls Association” of her high school alma mater for, in her words, “ensuring that the votes got in.”

Further, the person with two blogs in one Top5 category not only won the category, but went on to take the night’s top honour – Blog of the Year overall. In light of the above, the following questions are unavoidable:-

On what basis were the Judges given an assurance of anonymity and why - especially since the JBA had earlier offered, via its Facebook page, to post a list of the Judges?

Why could they not have been presented at the awards ceremony, with the results presumably sealed from public scrutiny prior to announcement? To a foreign investor this is highly suspect, is it because these judges had conflicting interests in the outcome? Is it that they were also sponsors’ representatives and didn’t want their own personal choices to be made public? In virtually all such contests - whether film awards, like Cannes or the Golden Globes, but especially in a new contest, where a qualitative analysis has been done (with or without public vote), a Judges report is a standard procedure. Staid, empty press releases, and constant removal of questions posted from their Facebook page are not helping your cause.

If this awards programme is indeed your concept, you would do well to take the appropriate decisions to salvage credibility:

- Publish the full list of Judges;

- Publish the final tally of online and text votes in each category;

- Declare any conflicting positions among either judges or sponsors and issue a full apology for same;

- Rescind the awards where such conflicts have been identified;it’s time for Jamaicans to stop this mockery in business now the nation is on the global tech stage.

This is a great opportunity for Jamaican talent to shine and attract revenue this is not the time to for amateur night – major corporations, including the nation’s largest bank and one of the biggest telecoms providers, are involved. As an outside investor, I'm most ashamed to have championed this Jamaican business to my US clients.

I had posted my concerns on the JBA Facebook page which they continually remove.

In order for Jamaica to have a credible silicon valley and revenue (not a self appointed coterie, but people with true global tech authority and experience ) there needs to be transparency, integrity and above all a break down in corruption and nepotism. I believe in Jamaica and the talent of it's people but such issues are holding everyone back from global revenue.


stooshpr.com

New York, NY January,2011

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