Note from BBT: I know I’ve said this often over the past year or so, but I’ll say it again. I’ve seen more black Brazilians speaking out on how race works in Brazil, taking on prominent roles, and opening their own companies than ever before. There’s no way I as a single blogger can even keep up with all of the advances black people have been making in one area or another in Brazil. It’s like the black population has advanced more in the past decade than in the previous forty. That could be an exaggeration, but if you look around, you would probably see why it is it appears that way.
Brazil remains the same in many ways but I also see things changing that a just a few decades ago seemed would never change. Out of these changes have come people who are in positions to lead the way forward or at least have a say in the things that need to change. I’ve come across the name Vitor Del Rey more than a few times this year, but I don’t always have the time to be able to discuss a new situation or personality that I come across. I can’t even estimate the number of stories I’ve put on the back burner over the years. It’s a challenging task.
From time to time, I’ll receive messages from readers that hip me to something or someone that I probably need to introduce to my following, which is how today’s story came about. Occasionally I discuss Brazil’s job market and how black Brazilians fare in it. This topic often leads to frequent reports of lost opportunities that people feel may have been influenced by racial discrimination, salary inequality, unemployment and harassment on the job that may have something to do with race.
In today’s post, I approach the topic of black professionals who are already in the job market but have a certain feeling of not belonging in whatever business environment in which they are present. I know this feeling. You may be the only black person on the staff or discover that, interacting with colleagues, you perceive that may not be into the things that your colleagues are into. Or you may come from a different economic class, which in a country like a Brazil, can also create differences in how one is accepted.
These are all variables to consider in a time when black Brazilians are ascending socially and attaining access to positions in the job market that were once almost exclusively reserved for white or near white Brazilians. It’s one thing to finally be able to get there, but it’s sometimes another fitting in or feeling welcome. These are some of things that someone like Vitor Del Rey knows very well.
Del Rey is the founder of the Instituto Guetto, or ghetto institute, an acronym which stands for ‘Gestão Urbana de Empreendedorismo, Trabalho e Tecnologia Organizada’, meaning ‘”Urban Management for Entrepreneurship, Labor, and Organized Technology’. Guetto is a non-profit focusing on fighting racial and gender inequalities in the institutional environment through an anti-racist education model based on research and various projects.
Vitor is a social scientist with a degree from FGV, the Fundação Getúlio Vargas, meaning Getúlio Vargas Foundation, a prestigious college with campuses in Rio De Janeiro, São Paulo and the capital city of Brasília. One could argue that just being able to enter and then graduate from this college were major accomplishments for Del Rey, who is the fifth of six children raised by a single, black mother and the first to make to the university, which he entered at age 27.
Entering college at the age of 27, one may conclude that Vitor was late, but demonstrating the difficulty of black Brazilians attaining a college education, Vitor tells us that according to official statistics, it is actually the average age of black Brazilians entering college. Add this to the fact that tuition at FGV was more than BRL 4,500 per month and that he was only able to manage a place through a scholarship and Vitor’s since of not quite belonging started from the moment he entered the college campus. As he noted, the archetype of student at that university was the young white male.
Brazilian society functions in a manner in which people immediately know the ‘’place’’ society reserves for them, which is why black Brazilians often report perceiving differential treatment in certain areas of which they not expected to be found. This clearly applies to the university setting.
In the early 2000s, it was already rare to see black Brazilians on college campuses in large numbers, and even after the affirmative action system increased those numbers significantly, it also maintained beliefs about what areas they were expected to study. The more sought after and competitive the course, the less blacks were expected to enter. Vitor is aware of this.
“For our society, blacks and poor people shouldn’t study economics. And the college doesn’t work to fill its own representative void,’’ he said in a recent interview. Beating the odds, Vitor went on to attain a master’s degree in public administration from FGV and is a visiting student at the prestigious MIT, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in the US. With such a track record that was clearly a rare path for most black Brazilians, it’s clear that Del Rey’s opinions on society hold some weight when talking about the experiences of black professionals in the job market.
For more on this question, read on.
More than 47% of black professionals don’t feel a sense of belonging in the companies where they work
A survey by Indeed and the Guetto Institute reveals that more than half of those interviewed have felt racial discrimination in the workplace
By Tecnolera Staff
Every employee seeks to feel good in their work environment, after all it is where, most of the time, they spend most of their time. However, this is not always the case. The lack of a sense of belonging in the company is linked to several factors, one of them is discrimination. According to a survey conducted by Indeed in partnership with the Instituto Guetto, 47.8% of those interviewed do not have a sense of belonging in the companies where they currently work or have worked.
The survey of 245 black professionals to find out their perceptions about HR practices and the current job market also revealed that 41% of respondents believe that being recognized and having their contributions valued helps in this process of having a sense of belonging in the company. This shows that companies need to be aware of what happens in the work environment in order to develop initiatives that value the employee, thus increasing the motivation and engagement of employees in their daily activities.
Discrimination in the workplace
Racial discrimination and not feeling comfortable expressing oneself with authenticity are some of the factors that reflect in the lack of this feeling of being recognized as part of a team, for example. According to Indeed and Instituto Guetto’s research, 36% of the black professionals interviewed affirmed that being able to be authentic at work contributes to the concept of belonging within the company.
For Victor Del Rey, president of Instituto Guetto, discrimination in the workplace does not always come with an explicit offense. “The survey showed that 60% of the professionals interviewed have already felt racial discrimination in the workplace and almost 47% said they had already witnessed scenes of discrimination,” he said.
According to Del Rey, many times prejudice comes disguised as a joke, appears in conversation circles in a joking tone (the so-called recreational racism) or even in looks and differences in treatment. “HR needs to be attentive because not everyone will denounce an attitude of discrimination, but curbing these practices and developing actions to increase the sense of belonging of these professionals will make all the difference, even in productivity,” it is also necessary to create an institutional security environment so that the employee can denounce racist practices, even if anonymously. This strengthens the company’s position of not tolerating such practices, he says.
Inclusiveness and belonging
When asked which practices they believe can help the most in education and dissemination of information within the companies to create an environment more open to the inclusion and belonging of black people, 68% of the interviewees said that a continuous anti-racist training can be one of the ways adopted by the company. In addition, 40% of the respondents believe that a racial literacy program is also an effective tool.
Effective measures to combat racial discrimination and racism need to be part of the company’s organizational culture. “We see many companies adopting speeches in favor of diversity, with specific recruitment programs for black professionals, but it’s necessary to go further, to develop actions that can be applied and that make a difference in the day to day of the company,” emphasizes Vitor Del Rey.
The survey was prepared and conducted by Indeed, in partnership with Instituto Guetto, with 245 black professionals in Brazil. The interviews were conducted through an online panel in March 2021.