What is a
This is a physical space where members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ+) community are empowered, affirmed and feel safe to be their true selves. In this space, support and understanding are key acts of tolerance. Discrimination of any kind is strongly discouraged.
Why are Safe Spaces
Unfortunately, as a result of the low levels on employment in Jamaica, most LGBTQ+ employees experience unfair treatment and sometimes physical and sexual abuse from other employees and employers in silence in an effort to maintain employment.
In a series of focus groups held in August 2019 with thirty-four (34) LGBTQ+ Jamaicans, many LGBTQ+ persons found their work environments to be unwelcoming and even hostile. In addition, a 2019 Needs Assessment conducted with 301 LGBT persons revealed that one-in-three have had negative experiences due to their LGBTQ+ identity. LGBTQ+ employees whose emotional and physical safety is at risk can experience fear and anxiety, isolation and invisibility, fear of disclosure, and high levels of stress.
In turn, these experiences can interfere with high levels of professional achievement and personal development. Inhospitable workplace settings may also contribute to attrition and high turnover rates among promising employees who fear an oppressive environment. In fact, several studies have identified a demonstrable link between tolerance and inclusion in the workplace and high overall performance by companies, as noted in the Caribbean Policy Research Institute’s 2019 study.
Employers’ Role and
in Safe Spaces
How Can Employers
Thinking and Actions regarding LGBTQ Jamaicans?
It is important to understand that the Jamaica labour force is very much diverse, which means, the chances of you hiring someone who is of a different sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, socio-economic background, disabled or otherwise, are high. It is, therefore, paramount that you become aware of the your real or perceived biases and other harmful behaviours when hiring. It will be necessary for you to become aware of LGBTQ+ related issues, such as language, so you are able to relate to, and create a more inclusive workplace.
Strategies to this include:
Nobody has a PhD in LGBTQ+ language and culture, this is something you continue to learn over time. As an employer, it is critical that you begin to acquire knowledge about sexual orientation and gender identity, and what the experiences for LGBTQ+ Jamaicans are. Here is a quick summary based on past surveys and engagements.
You can better support your LGBTQ+ employees by:
Action is, without a doubt, the only way we can affect change in society as a whole. If you keep your awareness and knowledge to yourself, you are in danger of becoming counteractive to all of the work you have done towards safer workspaces. Simple gestures like remembering an employee’s pronouns shows that you care and value them as a person and a contributor to your company.
Download our Employers’ Safe Spaces Handbook to learn more about making your workspace into a safe space.