A pervasive mindset in Jamaican society, which accepts unethical practices as normal, was seen as problematic by the panelists of the Ninth Annual Joan Duncan Memorial Lecture.
The lecture was held under the theme, ‘A Suh De Ting Set’: The Urgent Need to Bring Back Moral and Social Ethics to our Public and Private Priorities and held on May 15.
The lecture panel included Professor Paul Golding, Professor of Management and Information Systems, UTech, Jamaica; Donna Duncan-Scott, Chief Culture and Human Development Officer, JMMB Group; Reverend Dr Devon Dick, Pastor, Boulevard Baptist Church and Karl Graham, Senior Research Officer, Jamaica Accountability Meter Portal (JAMP), sought to probe the theme of lecture during the one-hour broadcast on TVJ.
Duncan-Scott noted that the issue of doing what is right and what is wrong is not clear cut, when there is a culture of corruption. Giving the example of purchasing driver’s licences, instead of sitting and passing the examination, she pointed out that people, particularly young people, are more likely to go the illegal route, than contending with the rigours of the driving examination, in which the examiner “fails you for every little thing”. She also emphasised that the conversation about doing what is right needs to be an ongoing one.
Golding, who has led research into areas of societal concern, indicated that data from a recent poll he conducted shows that 80 per cent of Jamaicans believe that corruption is entrenched in society.
According to his research, Jamaicans view central Government as the most corrupt entity, while the media is seen as the least corrupt.
In light of this, Golding recommended that the perception of leadership, particularly those in politics should be reset, with “a fiduciary relationship being established between the leadership and the people,” where greater accountability and consequences for unethical and immoral action is enforced.
Reiterating the need for accountability, Graham pointed to the work of the Jamaica Accountability Meter Portal (JAMP), which is designed to engage the public to improve governance in Jamaica and to increase the level of accountability in public institutions, by empowering citizens to use their power to hold public officials accountable; call for effective leadership and improved governance in Jamaica.
In also offering his perspective, Graham indicated that, “when you hear a Jamaican say, ‘so de ting set’, the inference is as though there is a bit of hopelessness, that it is set in this particular paradigm, that it is set in this way, and that it is unchangeable; what we really want to do is to change that mindset, so that we can now shift the focus”.
Dick, in referencing the theme, noted: “This is saying to us that how things are in the country is not by accident, it is deliberate, it is a design, it is intentional.”
He however emphasised that it is important to analyse this way of thinking and determine how will we reset it?
He proposed a way forward, arguing that “for a values-and-attitudes campaign to work best, it has to have a wide buy-in”.
Further stating the need for an agreement on the “moral vision” to be willingly disseminated, noting that the private sector, civil society, church and political parties are all needed to transform society based on values that they have agreed are “just, responsible, sustainable and wholesome”.
The annual Joan Duncan Memorial Lecture is hosted by the University of Technology, Jamaica’s Joan Duncan School of Entrepreneurship, Ethics and Leadership (JDSEEL), in partnership with the JMMB Joan Duncan Foundation. The memorial lecture honours the vision, mission and passion of the late corporate leader and JMMB co-founder, Joan Duncan.
Acting President, UTech, Jamaica, Professor Colin Gyles, noted that the longstanding relationship with the JMMB Group dates back 22 years, when the Joan Duncan Chair in Research and Finance was established at UTech, Jamaica. He noted that in 2011 the School of Entrepreneurship at the university was renamed the Joan Duncan School of Entrepreneurship, Ethics and Leadership (JDSEEL), and is the first business entrepreneur incubator of its kind in the English-speaking Caribbean.
Paying tribute to the late co-founder of JMMB, the lecture featured a short documentary that highlighted the life and contribution of the money market pioneer in Jamaica.
Social media influencer Juliet Bodley (Julie Mango) brought her humorous take on the topic with her skits featuring various commonplace instances of corruption in Jamaica.
The panel discussion was followed by a brief Q&A with the studio audience, comprising UTech, Jamaica Students’ Union President, Tavoy Barrett, Daemion McLean, Chairman, Jamaica Society for the Blind, and representatives of other interest groups.