STORYTIME: Christmas Greetings from Toyota Jamaica and Deaf Can! Coffee

When I think of a Jamaican company that truly embodies the meaning of being a good corporate social citizen, I think of Toyota Jamaica. They are one of the few companies I know locally that go above and beyond to implement eco-friendly practices – solar panels power 100 per cent of the daytime operations at their Old Hope Road location – and give back to the community through supporting schools, childhood development and providing opportunities for the disabled.

They don’t do it for publicity or a write-up in the paper, they just do it because they know it’s the right thing to do. That’s one of the main reasons I chose to represent them as an ambassador.

Most recently, you may have seen Toyota Jamaica’s Christmas video circulating online (shared below), prominently featuring the Dead Can! Coffee team members who work at the Toyota Jamaica Coffee House, and a few other employees, speaking sign language. Warning: Get the tissues ready, because you’re gonna need them!

https://www.instagram.com/p/B6bR3QyBd0a/

Now if you think that video is something special, wait until you hear the story behind it!

After Toyota’s team fell in love with the Deaf Can! Coffee story and mission, and invited them to run the Toyota Jamaica Coffee House at their Old Hope Road location, they noticed one big challenge in their quest for inclusion – communication. The Toyota Jamaica team knew very little sign language, which limited their ability to make the deaf baristas feel truly welcomed into the Toyota family.

So what did they do?! Teach us all sign language! Yes, including me. As an ambassador, and a huge fan of the Coffee House, I was invited to the sign language sessions Toyota held for their staff to teach them the basics of sign language. With this knowledge, we could now greet, engage in small talk and of course, order our favourite caffeinated beverages in sign language. (My fav is the chai latte, try it!)

I hope that this move from Toyota will help to inspire other businesses in Jamaica to not just talk about diversity and inclusion in the workplace and do the bare minimum to get great PR, but to go deeper and take concrete steps, however difficult they may be, to make it real. That’s what our country deserves.

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