Displaying their support of Gender Equality on International Women’s Day on 8 March are (from left) Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Hon Olivia Grange, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Denzil Thorpe, UNDP Resident Representative, Dr Elsie Laurence-Chounoune and Director in the Bureau of Gender Affairs, Sharon Coburn-Robinson. Occasion was the UNDP’s International Women’s Day event, Breaking Through to Next Level Gender Equality in the Jamaica Workplace.
Home page photo: FIle photo of Forestry Department staff on location at Gourie Forest Reserve in Manchester
The first local enterprises in Jamaica and the Caribbean to sign on to the United Nations Development Programme’s Gender Equality Seal certification programme about a year ago, have now completed a crucial milestone in the international ten-step process.
The trailblazing local enterprises advancing to the next level in the certification process are, Jamaica Chamber of Commerce, Rubis Energy Jamaica, Island Grill and Facey Commodity.
The disclosures were made on 8 March by UNDP Resident Representative a.i., Dr Elsie Laurence-Chounoune, at UNDP’s International Women’s Day Breakfast branded “Breaking Through to Next level Gender Equality in the Jamaican Workplace.” She said four of the six companies recently completed the robust self-assessment and the staff opinion survey, which was a necessary step in the 10-step certification process. “The findings are encouraging,” Dr Laurence-Chounoune disclosed. She said, “it was found that some processes are already equitable, but in a few cases, may need more work.”
The Resident Representative further disclosed that the next step will be the development of a work plan by each company with technical support from UNDP. “This work plan will be designed based on the findings of the assessment, and also on global standards,” she explained.
Rubis’ results encouraging
Rubis Energy Jamaica’s Human Resources Manager, Donnovan Dobson, in reporting select findings from his company’s survey said they revealed a positive perception by staff of the degree of gender sensitivity in Rubis’ recruitment and selection process. “We are certainly happy to know employees feel that way about the company,” he said. The survey also highlighted perceptions that there were similar training opportunities for men and women, and balance in opportunities for promotion” he revealed. There is also a balanced perception that mechanisms are available and accessible to deal with harassment, including sexual harassment in the workplace. “We have a robust policy around that,” he explained. “We call it the touch and go policy. If you touch you go.” He said Rubis was very excited about the final outcomes of the certification programme and encouraged other private sector companies to do so without delay.
Changing the gender culture
The certification programme involves learning, sharing and building a culture of equity in the enterprise through recruitment, hiring and selection of staff; organizational structure, functions and posts; wages, times and working hours and training opportunities; care of children, elders and people with disabilities; sexual harassment policies; and budgets allocated for gender activities.
The Gender Equality Seal, the certification programme is being piloted in Jamaica for the first time – after a successful run in Latin America – with the support of the United Nations Development Programme in Jamaica in partnership with the Bureau of Gender Affairs and the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce.
Private and public sector enterprises awarded the Gold, Silver or Bronze level Seal have met specific standards to promote gender equality in the workplace and are now globally recognized for this stellar achievement. The Seal has proven to garner respect and recognition for companies seeking to build international partnerships.
Supported by UNDP, more than 1400 enterprises in Latin American countries, including Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Colombia and Mexico, have participated in the certification process and have reported impacts on employee productivity, brand reputation and profitability. Jamaica is the first Caribbean country to embark on this ground-breaking initiative.