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Homosexuality in the Workplace

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Homosexuality is a topic that can evoke very strong negative emotions around the world – especially so in the Caribbean. The point of this article is not to discuss whether you agree or disagree with someone’s orientation; rather to raise a topic that is gaining increased attention and affecting the workplace.{{more}}

Use this article as an awareness tool, to help you be better prepared when traveling abroad or working with or for a foreign company.

In the United Kingdom and the United States (as well as many other countries around the globe), laws protect homosexuals from harassment on the job; in fact, many companies actively protect and support employees who “come out of the closet.” Many local communities have also chosen to legally protect the rights of homosexuals. Connecticut, for example, just became the third US state to allow gay marriages.

So, what does that have to do with businesses in St. Vincent and other Caribbean nations?

First, no one is asking you to condone this lifestyle. What it means is that Caribbean nationals who travel abroad to work seasonally or who relocate outside the area for temporary or permanent work must be aware of the laws and the working environment. Some major considerations to be aware of include the following.

1. Do not make the assumption that someone is a homosexual based on his or her speech pattern, mannerism, or appearance -you might be very surprised at what you discover to the contrary!

2. It is not acceptable to call homosexuals by the common derogatory names that are a part of the local language. Using such words in a company or community abroad-even in jest-can cost you your job and even land you in court.

3. You cannot decline to work with someone based solely on their orientation. If a project needs to be done, get the work done.

4. Many Caribbean communities are built on conservative Christian values which do not condone homosexuality. Christian or non-Christian, you do not have the right to verbally or physically abuse an individual. You can always respectfully disagree with someone, but you need to treat that person as a human being and a valued colleague.

5. You might think you are safe to make certain remarks with friends in your office, but refrain from doing so. Even if you are not in the presence of someone who is homosexual, you can still be accused of harassment if someone present says they felt uncomfortable because of your remarks.

A final note for the other side of the coin, if you are homosexual, consider where in the world you work, and weigh the decision to make your sexual orientation public information. Only you can make that judgment.

Again, this article is meant to educate you about conditions in other countries. It can be devastating to see promising young people lose valuable opportunities simply because they were not aware of the laws and viewpoints in a new environment.

Karen Hinds President/CEO –
Workplace Success Group,
Toll Free: 1-877-902-2775;
Tel: 1-203-757-4103
A CT Winner of the Make Mine a Million Dollar Business award!
Karen@WorkplaceSuccess.com
www.WorkplaceSuccess.com
Creator of The Workplace Success Program (TM)

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