Equality for all – Pride 2021

Equality for all – Pride 2021

In recognition, acknowledgement, and celebration of Pride Month, SteppingStones were delighted to have the opportunity to promote inclusion in the workplace through speaking with 2 members of the Cayman LGBTQ+ community about their journey so far.

  1. Hi Gianna! Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?

I have worked in corporate IT for 16 years. I am Caymanian and am part of the LGBTQ+ community

  1. Have you faced any challenges in your workplace due to your orientation? If so, are you able to give examples of how these have been addressed by your employer?

I have been working in/with big firms in the private sector all of my adult life. I haven’t experienced much discrimination at work regarding my sexuality as the environments tend to be far more progressive and modern.

  1. Do you feel like you are able to be your true self at work?

Yes. This is mostly due to my nature, privilege, and skill sets. I find it too much work to be anyone other than myself and most people I work with are more interested in my ability to get the job done than who I date. I work with people that tend to be more scientific and technical in the way they think and most of my colleagues are well traveled and open minded.

  1. In your opinion, what would you like to see happen in Cayman for the LGBTQ+ community?

I would love for LGBTQ+ people to find community support, visibility and self-love. This is especially true for people that grow up here. There’s a lot of hate and negativity that we have to overcome.

  1. What advice would you give employers to help LGBTQ+ employees feel more included in the workplace?

I would be more inclusive and thoughtful around LGBTQ+ experiences. Celebrating Pride the same way you celebrate Xmas around the office. Management should actively educate themselves on issues surrounding LGBTQ people in the workplace and share that information throughout the organization. Bad actors should be held accountable for the damage they do. LGBTQ+ relationships and experiences should be normalized in the work culture.

  1. Hi Sally! Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?

I was born in Florida to a Caymanian father and an American mother. I grew up in Cayman and am part of the LGBTQ+ community. My work experience in Cayman includes that in the tourism, food and beverage and corporate industries.

  1. Have you faced any challenges in your workplace due to your orientation? If so, are you able to give examples of how these have been addressed by your employer?

 During my time working in the Food and Beverage industry, I remained “in the closet” to most of my coworkers. A lot of the time employees would openly discuss their views of homosexuality (which was in a pejorative context most of the time). This created an extremely uncomfortable environment, and I would even use opposite-sex pronouns when referring to my partner at the time to avoid being confronted or judged. My employer never became aware of this type of behavior among their staff (at least to my knowledge) – I’m not sure what action, if any, they would have taken if they did.

  1. Do you feel like you are able to be your true self at work?

In the context of the same gigI worked for referenced above, I remember feeling like I had to show a different face to my colleagues. The only thing anyone wants is to feel accepted, no matter if it is around your work colleagues, family or friends. It really breaks down one’s confidence to feel like they cannot be themselves at their place of work; this has seriously damaging affects to your self-esteem and even could have effects on your job performance. I had to work extra hard to be charming and friendly, because maybe if they ever did find out about my sexual orientation, I would hope that they could see past that. But no one should ever feel like they have to compensate for who they are. It’s just not how a healthy life is built. 

  1. In your opinion, what would you like to see happen in Cayman for the LGBTQ+ community?

 I would like to see more representation of LGBTQ+ persons in Cayman. The more we talk about it, the more the message of inclusion will reach the public. There is a large LGBTQ+ community in the Cayman Islands (which might be surprising to some, but it’s true!). A lot of people are afraid to be open about their sexuality because of potential backlash that could have an impact on their career or even their relationships with their families. The more we talk about LGBTQ+ inclusion, the more people will continue to come out and feel safe about doing so. What the Caymanian community needs to understand is that sexual orientation is not just about sex – it’s more importantly about love. No one should ever be denied of that. More importantly, we need other legal protections against discrimination in the workplace generally. 

  1. What advice would you give employers to help LGBTQ+ employees feel more included in the workplace?

If more businesses stood up as an ally and represented their support for the LGBTQ+ community, I know that would create a more inclusive working environment for many. I envision a time where one’s sexual orientation or gender becomes a redundant topic, but unfortunately people will continue to discriminate if the community doesn’t take speak out or take action. This also applies to other forms of discrimination based on culture or ethnicity, which is also rampant in Cayman. 

If more businesses enforced a zero-tolerance policy for discrimination on all fronts, or even required sensitivity training for their employees, I think that could be a great step in the right direction. 

SteppingStones are proud to put equality, diversity and inclusion at the heart of everything we do. We recognize the important role we play in shaping and promoting diversity within the workplace and are committed to a future where everyone feels respected and included, irrespective of their similarities or differences.

In an ever-changing world full of possibilities, we all have a role to play; let’s be the change we want to see in the world, not the challenge.

For more information on Cayman LGBTQ Foundation and how you can get involved, please visit: https://www.clgbtqf.com/

*Some names have been changed to maintain confidentiality