Tue | Dec 11, 2018

Jaevion Nelson | Rainbow at work

Published:Saturday | November 17, 2018 | 12:00 AM

 

Workplace diversity is a topic that has been in vogue for a while. Yet many Jamaican companies are still grappling with defining what this means to their organisation, communicating why diversity is important and finding ways to consistently and meaningfully include diversity as a priority in their overall talent-management strategy.

As human-rights practitioners and change leaders, we know diversity is about differences and similarities. LGBT diversity challenges us to understand that what may be right for one person may not be right for another.

We have learned that prejudice and bias are weakened as people work together and learn through positive experience of respectful interaction. In an inclusive workplace, the environment is guided by expectations that advance relationship building and learning: work relations, fairness, respectful interactions and teamwork. These criteria are useful when navigating the approach to LGBT inclusion.

Sexual orientation and gender identity diversity are sometimes labelled as one of the 'tough', 'emotional', and 'uncomfortable' issues in workplace diversity.

 

DIVERSITY

 

In order for diversity to be seen as an organisational priority and a positive aspect of workplace culture, its impact on work productivity and innovation needs to be managed and nurtured.

If diversity is to be appreciated as an asset, rather than feared as a divisive issue, leaders have to evolve with their workplaces and commit to championing diversity as a strength and priority for the long-term well-being of the company.

With the support of senior leadership, organisations can establish their workplace as an equal-opportunity employer, including taking steps to prevent and address human rights complaints.

A company that employs a diverse workforce can draw strength from the variety of talent and different perspectives employees bring to their jobs. Diversity can also improve an organisation's level of adapta-bility, strengthen its ability to provide service to diverse audiences, and, ultimately, inspire employees to think beyond their own realities and push their boundaries.

Companies that create an inclusive, supportive environment will also strengthen their reputation and their employer brand, draw better candidates for open positions, and retain top talent longer.

People who feel secure in their workplace, supported by policies that engender acceptance and positivity, will be more loyal, more focused on their jobs and less distracted and stressed. This, in turn, means that the organisation will function better across the board, with greater efficiency and, ultimately, better profits.

With global brands operating within Jamaica, and many others committing to prioritising diversity and inclusion, the path is clear. It is time that we maximise productivity through inclusive workspaces.

Workplace diversity is important and beneficial for business and a vital facet to the success of a better Jamaica.

As J-FLAG celebrates Inter-national Day of Tolerance, we will host a forum on November 23 at Altamont Court Hotel, beginning at 2 p.m.

- Jaevion Nelson is a human-rights advocate and executive director of J-FLAG. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and jaevion@gmail.com or tweet @jaevionn.