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'Care' through corporate stewardship

Times have not always been easy for the Walters’ family. With two young boys and both parents unemployed at the time, it was extremely difficult to make ends meet. However, committed to the survival of their family, Mr. and Mrs. Walters accepted odd jobs wherever they were available ensuring their boys went to school and had enough food to sustain them. Despite living under such adverse conditions, the boys were encouraged to excel in school where they achieved averages of over 70% while also productively engaging themselves in the school’s extracurricular activities particularly football.

Today, things have become much easier for the Walters, due in large part to the intervention of the Jamaica Employers Federation through its Employers’ CARE Initiative. Mrs. Walters is now gainfully employed and able to contribute on a sustained basis to the welfare and economic independence of her family. The Walters demonstrate the importance of strong family values in the home where both parents are actively engaged in supporting and setting positive examples for their children while encouraging them to achieve excellence.

Since the inception of the Employers Care Initiative in 2003, the Jamaica Employers’ Federation has been actively engaged in the corporate stewardship of marginalized inner-city communities through partnerships with faith-based organizations and member companies.

According to JEF CEO, Mrs. Jacqueline Coke-Lloyd, “Corporate Social Responsibility is an issue that is relevant to the operation of the Jamaica Employers Federation. While it is the responsibility of the government to facilitate the well-being of the citizens of a country, we believe that employers can add value to the lives of its employees, customers and communities through our initiatives.”

She added that the results of the neglect of marginalized citizens are not confined to the communities in which these citizens live or to the departments of government. Rather they affect the viability of businesses and homes. As she expounds, “In the pursuit of enterprises as well as fulfilling our moral obligation, we take our role as good corporate citizens very seriously and with active engagement as evidenced in the implementation of the CARE Initiative.”

The primary goal of this initiative is to integrate employers and JEF employees in a partnership that provides support to the less fortunate, while promoting the empowerment of these marginalized individuals towards sustainable livelihoods. The initiative which is three-pronged in approach provides cash and product donations to faith based organizations, mentorship for at risk youths and training focusing on enterprise and youth development.

According to Alecia Lewis, Client Services, Communications and Marketing Coordinator for JEF, “We have partnered over the years with the Agency for Inner-city Renewal, giving donations of food, baby clothes and books to beneficiaries at the Women’s Crisis Centre.” She further explained that these donations are made possible through cash contributions made by member companies as well as collections at the JEF Annual Business Convention. Other beneficiaries from this fund include Matthew 25:40 – a home for children living with AIDS, Reddy’s Place of Safety, Jamaica AIDS Support and the Walter’s Family.

In addition, the CARE Initiative assists interested youths in identifying and implementing business ideas as part of the enterprise development focus of the programme. The training takes them through the process of business development, implementation and management while also providing assistance in the identification of financing opportunities for their prospective businesses.

Additionally, youths are equipped with requisite social and adaptive skills that will help them to acclimatize to both formal and informal corporate cultures. They are given training in such areas as grooming for the workplace, appropriate attitudes for the work environment and basic communication skills.

Mentorship also plays a key role in the success of the Care Initiative as JEF employees are actively engaged in the process of ensuring that their protégés are consistently monitored and encouraged to contribute positively to their communities while seeking ways in which to self-actualize the goals they have set for themselves.

Mrs. Walters has nothing but high praise for the programme, “I am so happy for the
help that JEF has given to me. They not only gave me donations to help my family last year Christmas and gave my boys back to school uniforms, books and football gear in time for the Easter Term but they have also given me some invaluable training that has helped me to finally get a permanent job. I can’t stop thanking them for making my life so much easier and skills that will last me a lifetime.”
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