Key players in the local business community have reaffirmed a commitment to creating safe work environments for their LGBTQ+ employees, and to embrace more fully the principles of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
The affirmations were made on Tuesday 17 May 2022, when a cohort of business leaders—including the T&T Chamber of Industry & Commerce (TTCIC), the American Chamber of Commerce TT (AMCHAM), the ANSA McAL Group, the HADCO Group, and Scotiabank Caribbean, and EY Caribbean—joined PrideTT to commemorate International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT) 2022, as part of the launch of PrideTT’s 5th Anniversary.
A release from PrideTT reports that the business leaders participated in a business panel as part of the 1st Annual Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Conference in Trinidad and Tobago, held at the Hyatt, Trinidad. Speaking openly, each shared with other private and public sector organisations in attendance, why DEI policies—including those protecting the interests of queer employees, customers, and persons in general—are simply the right thing to do.
ANSA McAL already has commenced a full-scale DEI integration process, while last year both Scotiabank and HADCO extended insurance benefits to same-sex partners of their gay employees. The TTCIC and AMCHAM have made several calls over the years for more progressive and inclusive policies from not only its members, but government in general. EY Caribbean is part of a global community that has been able to implement global DEI policy across its broad footprint.
The discussion was moderated by Rudolph Hanamji, Senior Manager Business Development, EY Caribbean who is partly responsible for EY’s rollout of its Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) service lines –with DEI being a main component in the Social pillar. EY Caribbean has had a head start in this area, given its global offices DEI polices and commitment to the LGBTQ community.
Panellist, Teresa White, Chief Shared Services Officer, ANSA reminded attendees that this ‘is not a simple journey’, while Nirad Tewarie, CEO AMCHAM encouraged non-LGBTQ persons to ‘show-up’ as allies. Scotiabank’s Rhonda O’Neil, Senior Manager Leadership, Learning and Development Caribbean South & East, highlighted the need for ‘psychologically safe environments’ at the workplace.
Another panellist, Marsha Naidoo-Choo Chai, Group Human Resources Manager, HADCO underscored the importance of ‘leadership within the company’ to drive an inclusive culture. And Jonathan Cumberbatch, a Director at T&T Chamber of Industry & Commerce, acknowledged that ‘symbolism’ is critical for progressing a more diverse, equitable and inclusive society.
Other members of the business community in attendance—such as RBL, Angostura, Heritage Petroleum—committed to joining their colleagues in the DEI journey.
This activity was aligned with the PrideTT’s theme for this year, REJUVENATION, which was unveiled later that evening.
“As this is the 60th year of Independence, PrideTT has aligned its programming around helping build a better T&T, by mobilising the queer community whose members exist in all aspects of life. They will be called upon to contribute to efforts on empowering all vulnerable and marginalised persons across T&T—who share intersectional challenges with queer persons,” the PrideTT release revealed.
Hanamji, who is also the outgoing Co-Chair of PrideTT, having served since its inception, advised that moving forward, a new organisation, called QueerTT, will be operationalized to work more closely with the private sector in developing programmes to support queer persons. Thus, PrideTT will focus specifically on the month-long pride celebrations, held every last weekend of June to the last weekend of July.