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Racism in the Labor Market

Openly discussing racism in the Brazilian Industry

Aon Brazil People Leader, Andrea Milan, opened the event by commenting on the importance of discussing the issue of racism in Brazil and then thanking colleagues that were attending the session and the two debaters.

Coordinator of Diversity and Inclusion at the Moreira Salles Institute, Viviana Santiago took to the floor. A black, single working-mom, Viviana discussed the challenges she has faced, and in doing so, highlighted the true meaning of intersectionality: the interconnected nature of social categorisations such as race, class, and gender and the overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage.

Education coordinator, at Rio de Janeiro Business and Insurance school, Valeria Graciano entered the meeting with a firm reminder of the daily racism that occurs every day in Brazil.

The panellists then took part in an in-depth discussion covering topics such as black professional development programs, education quotas, support systems, visibility, and the need to make the industry more attractive to the black community. The panellists acknowledged that while progress was being made, not enough was being done to address the lack of racial diversity in business – particularly at management level. Andrea, who is a mother of two interracial children commented that “We need to grow to make sure we have enough role models in our market to inspire young people to grow. They need to know they can be whatever they want. They can be CEOs”.

Valeria Graciano, reinforced this message by saying that, “Investing in the next black generations through educational programs will allow us to have Black CEOs in the future.”

In the closing stages, Viviana Santiago left a strong message, “We all can be anti-racist. It is a matter of choice.”

The panel concluded with a discussion on authenticity, a core theme of this year’s festival. The panellists were all in agreeance on the value of creating an environment where black professionals can be “black”, respected and valued for their culture and personal style.