Representativeness by corporate function, gender and race
1 = BEGINNER
2 = MANAGER
3 = SENIOR MANAGER / DIRECTOR
4 = VICE-PRESIDENT
5 = SENIOR VICE-PRESIDENT
6 = EXECUTIVE-DIRECTOR
White man %
Black man %
White woman %
Black woman %
Although the greatest superheroes on the planet, Captain America, Thor, Hulk, and Spider-Man have always fought alone, with their characteristics and challenges – until Marvel decided to gather them and forge the Avengers’ saga. The four-movie series was a box office epic triumph, while also accomplishing the mission of reawakening the interest of old heroes’ fans and conquering a younger audience.
The message behind the plot is quite simple: together, they would have more strength to face their enemies, due to their different skills and weaknesses. Moreover, thus, Marvel would meet a real-world demand, as matters associated with diversity figure among the main characters.
In the corporate universe, the discussion is an old one; however, effective actions are not. There is a long way ahead for companies facing this challenge with urgency, based on studies that have confirmed how diversity within teams helps to increase results.
The most recent McKinsey study, which is continually researching the theme, points out that a business with more diversity has up to 33% more chances of being further profitable than less inclusive ones. To reach this result, they analyzed 1007 companies in 12 countries, including Brazil, based on several metrics correlating diversity with financial performance.
The report also emphasizes the importance of the business not only bringing in people with different profiles but also carrying out internal efforts to keep and develop their skills, while providing a pleasant, hostility-free environment.
“It’s necessary that organizations truly realize what diversity is and its factual importance for employees, consumers, and the society as a whole”, warns Carine Roos, co-founder of the ELAS program, a school of leadership and development for women.
The program has already served 400 professionals, including women seeking to improve their behavior (for instance, encouraged to ask for a raise and not being intimidated during business meetings), and organizations unaware of the reasons they were losing female talents. “Frequently, people’s prejudice is unconscious and there is a tendency to promote people seen as equal by the leaders”, says Roos.
Among those that have opted for offering the training and have seen improvements in retention and results is Accenture. Amid difficulties to keep female professionals, the company did not know where in the process were the bottlenecks. “We pointed them out; we showed them where to improve, trained their employees, and proved that an enhancement, in fact, occurred after a short period”.
The technology industry, by the way, is among those making an extra effort to promote diversity, even due to practical matters: not only there is a lack of experts in the market, but also artificial intelligence algorithms development demands different physical and mental structures to operate correctly. According to Tata Communications’ CEO Julie Woods-Moss, “artificial intelligence requires a massive amount of data, which demands a lot of human content; otherwise, our prejudices go into the AI”.
“It’s necessary that organizations truly realize what diversity is and its factual importance for employees, consumers, and the society as a whole”
The struggle in hiring diverse professionals start at the recruiting and selection stage. However, the challenge does not relate to the candidates’ competence for the job, but to the unconscious pattern of requiring more from women and black people, for instance, than from a white, heterosexual male candidate. In the hiring process, technologist qualifications are enough when the candidate is a white, heterosexual male. While for women, black people or LGBTs, the requirement for a high-level educational referral and vast experience appears even for a job that does not demand such profile.
However, international goals for gender equity in business have led many to adopt initiatives that diminish the unbalanced presence of men and women. For the multinational Serasa Experian, the attention arises at the time of forming teams.
Their selective process in Brazil mandatorily includes women in 100% of the company recruiting process’ final stages. It is also mandatory that half of the candidates are black. The same rules are valid throughout all hierarchal levels, from trainees to management.
These and many other initiatives that go from a commitment to global actions to training and awareness week events have contributed to a current diverse workforce within the company. The high percentage repeats on leadership positions: on management, 47% are women, and on the board of directors, 38%.
In the opinion of the marketing and sales professor Claudio Tomanini, from the Getúlio Vargas Foundation, the quest for diversity and respect for differences are part of the disruption movement the world is presently undergoing. Moreover, technology is actively a part of it, which is why the industry must change, quickly.
Within this context, IT professionals must take on the responsibility to stop thinking of the solution itself and start thinking of the people who will use it. “There is no way to reach the result desired by the client if you don’t put yourself on the users’ place and learn about who you are developing a solution or a product for, and why”. When we talk about diversity, one of the first companies that come to mind is the ice cream chain Ben & Jerry’s. Since its foundation, in the 1980s, it offers the same benefits to employees’ spouses, whether or not they are in same-sex unions. The Brazilian operation employs minority groups throughout all business positions. In their employees’ board, presently, 61% of the collaborators are black, 55% are women, 25% are lesbians, gays or bisexuals, and 4% are transgender.
“We have always known that with a diverse team, we could have more positive discussions and different perspectives, which contribute to the business and speak more clearly and honestly to such a plural society,” commented Rodrigo Santini, Ben and Jerry’s Country Brand Leader in Brazil.
Artificial intelligence requires a massive amount of data, which demands a lot of human content; otherwise, our prejudices go into the AI.