For decades Jamaica has grappled with the issue of abject poverty plaguing many communities and districts. Many reasons have been posited as to why we face this problem on such as wide scale. One of the most popular explanations seems to be that too many Jamaicans are not educated and do not possess professional qualifications. However, a face value examination of this idea will show that while it is true that many Jamaicans lack basic level education, many educated Jamaicans have been affected by poverty.
For years, university graduates have been saying they are simply not landing jobs and in many cases remain unemployed for extended periods after completing their studies. Is it that there is a shortage of jobs? Or are many of our graduates simply not able to access the existing job opportunities?
There is a very strong link between corruption and unemployment. Corruption has been crippling businesses for decades and has been slowly reducing the number of job opportunities available to ordinary Jamaicans.
For one, when the resources within business entities are tampered with, fewer resources remain for the employment of persons and for the growth of the business itself. Beyond this, there are grave consequences for the growth of any business when allegations of corruption meet the public ear. This is where the real problem begins, as the business will see fewer investments especially from international agencies which do not wish to associate with the ugly corruption monster. Fewer investments will always mean that fewer jobs are available to average Jamaicans since many businesses depend on investment capital to expand their operations and to hire additional staff.
Cronyism, one of the most popular forms of corruption in Jamaica, significantly affects the job market since oftentimes qualified persons are denied jobs because persons in power give unwarranted favour to their friends and relatives. Again, when evidences of this surface, external financial backing is oftentimes reduced since external funding agencies must protect their reputation from the stains of corruption.
Also of note is that when businesses are accused of engaging in corrupt practices they put their staff under undue scrutiny and regulation. This is never good for business since it becomes frustrating for employees, affecting employee morale and consequently, productivity. In a substantive sense, people and businesses that engage in corruption do so in hopes that they will never get caught. However, in a world where there is increased business intelligence and a heightened focus on stamping out corruption, many corrupt practices are at some point brought to light. When the truth about shady and undercover dealings are brought to light, the consequences for the business are dire. The stakes are high and they should be.
Businesses must begin to act responsibly not only for their sakes but for the benefit of the societies to which they belong.