We’ve never lived in a more connected and borderless world than this one today. More than before, with the advent of the internet and the increase in technology, Jamaica has been exposed to new cultures and peoples and different ways of being and existing. We also live in a time when groups that have existed within the margins of Jamaican society are creating and propelling movements to affirm their diverse existence, identities and their right to make a decent and comfortable living!
Diversity in the Jamaican and wider Caribbean workplace will only come about by the deliberate and intentional actions of an organization/entity/business to employ citizens that reflect the multiplicity of our society by employing persons of different genders, ethnicities, sexual orientations, abilities, etc. Jamaican workplace diversity is also about creating a work environment that appreciates and celebrates differences with a hope to remind people that uniqueness is valuable and difference among Jamaican workers is not a threat.
LGBT Jamaicans, among the several hindrances they face in creating a meaningful life, have had a difficult time seeking and maintaining employment because of the lack of attention paid by businesses to wokplace diversity in Jamaica as a priority. Diversity is an indication to LGBT persons that a business is accepting and tolerant and therefore a company they can either work for or do business with. The benefits of workplace diversity filter through to all segments of Jamaican society.
Importance of Workplace Diversity
The workplace exists as a site for tremendous social change within Jamaican society and can be instrumental in fostering respect and tolerance. Prevailing homophobia and transphobia in Jamaica, however, have made social and economic mobility for LGBT Jamaicans a burdensome task that impairs their overall wellbeing and ability to succeed. Finding employment or navigating the workplace and being discriminated against based on your real or perceived sexual and gender identity, presents a major obstacle to realizing and developing one’s potential and that’s why diversity matters.
Discrimination occurs most because we are fearful of that which is unfamiliar and different. It is when we neglect to place value on the abundance of variety that each person offers and instead view them as a disadvantage. Contrarily, research into the benefits of diversity in the workplace has shown that organizations and businesses profit both financially and culturally.
J-FLAG, the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays, is an LGBT rights organisation in Jamaica, founded in 1998, and works for the human rights of lesbians, all-sexuals, and gays in Jamaica and the world.