What are Diversity and Inclusion
Inasmuch as we are similar, we are wonderfully distinct. Each person, group and community may share commonalities, but within them are histories, cultures, personal experiences and ways of seeing the world that make them unique. Different. Within the LGBT community itself, there are variances that create a rich tapestry of abilities, identities and expressions.
This is what diversity is about; an acknowledgment of differences and a commemoration of the great value that they add. This is what makes Jamaican workplace inclusion so important. Workplaces that prize difference should not shy away from differences because of the discomfort it may cause, they should instead embrace the unfamiliar in a respectful way with the hope.
Inclusion takes diversity a few steps further by consciously bringing different people together for a shared goal. When inclusivity is a primary tenet of the workplace, it means that every person on the team is endowed with a sense of belonging, purpose and value.
Inclusion among Jamican businesses and workspaces ensures that each person (regardless of actual or perceived sexual and gender identity, socioeconomic background, educational level etc) is treated with equal respect, dignity and feels accepted and safe within the workplace. More importantly, inclusion guarantees that each employee feels that their contribution to the success of the business is important.
The Importance of embracing diversity in the Jamaican workplace
Diversity is not a social justice fad! Beyond its aim to enrich organizations with a multifaceted staff, diversity and inclusivity act as impactful secret tools to improve the quality, capabilities and successes of the organization! Here are some reasons why Jamaican businesses benefit from inclusion and diversity and should make concerted efforts to become more so:
- When organizations prioritize diversity, which includes hiring LGBT persons, it exposed them to a wider pool of talent from which to recruit. This inevitably makes the organization more competitive. Additionally, a company that is inclusive typically attracts the best talent.
- With a diverse staff, organizations can expect greater innovation and an increase in the quality of decision-making because of the variety of perspectives.
- Lower turnover rates have been identified as one of the key benefits of diverse employees. Diversity and inclusion foster an environment where staff feels accepted, appreciated and valued which in turn increases loyalty to the company.
- Organizations that embraced inclusivity and diversity are also known to perform better and therefore earn higher profits.
Bringing Diversity + Inclusion in the workplace
Diversity and inclusion in the workplace require a bit more than the creation of policies to govern respect and tolerance for all. Policies are a fantastic way to start but ultimately useless if not put into practice and measured for effectiveness. So how can Jamaican businesses bring diversity and inclusion into the workplace and begin to reap the benefits?
- Conduct a self-assessment of your organization to ascertain how sympathetic and informed on diversity and inclusion your business practices and policies (such as hiring and firing, employee relations and customer engagement) are. Has your organization implemented policies and programs that take diversity and inclusion into account? Have there been any quantifiable changes? Are there policies that might prevent LGBT persons from being employed or be treated fairly and equally? An assessment will reveal gaps and areas of weaknesses.
- Upon assessment and identification of areas of weaknesses, the organization must make steps to respond by changing or improving the culture of the workplace by making diversity and inclusion apparent. One way to do so is by engaging in diversity and inclusion training hosted by experts in the field as a means of raising awareness. Additionally, make diversity and inclusion a part of the mission and vision of your organization.
- Consider creating a diversity and inclusion committee in the workplace. This committee may be responsible for training employees on how to engage with coworkers of dissimilar backgrounds and ways of existing, review policies, create other events that boosts morale and respect for all as well as measure the impact of diversity and inclusion initiatives.
Are Jamaican Companies ready to embrace diversity?
Jamaica has made noticeable progress in the treatment of LGBT persons, however, there is still a great way to go to transform our policies and ways of thinking to allow LGBT Jamaicans, particularly Jamaican workers, to fully exercise their agency and live a fulfilling life. So how prepared are Jamaican businesses to embrace diversity?
A 2018 study commissioned by Equality for All Foundation on the “Awareness, Attitudes and Perceptions” of the general public, politicians and employers on LGBT issues in Jamaica showed that employers in Jamaica are generally less negative towards LGBT Jamaicans. They share some belief that respect and tolerance for the community should be taught within schools. This report shows us a business landscape that is, at the very least, open to further conversations on why opportunities need to be made available for LGBT Jamaicans and environments that are open and tolerant.