For black men and women, discrimination in Brazil’s banking industry is still a harsh reality

black Brazilian women

by Marcela Brito

Although the day of the abolition of slavery in Brazil is celebrated on May 13th, the reality is that society continues this reflection every day. The prejudice against black people is a shameful fact in Brazil and therefore it must be fought. For those who don’t admit prejudice against black men and women, some reports illustrate a reality that must be changed urgently.

Jackeline Silva is an example of people receiving different treatment for being black. When entering a bank, the first reaction is expresses itself right at the entrance. “I feel like I am being watched from head to toe, as if you were going through an X-ray at the door of the bank.  Another thing I notice is advertising that when a black person appears, he’s there in the end, almost imperceptible.”

The young Jackeline, who is president of the Institute for Black Women in (the state of) Mato Grosso (IMMUNE – MT) notes that the worst thing is that bias is everywhere. She is part of an initiative that works for appreciation of blacks and combating prejudice. “I know direct means and we pass on to other people that every right must be respected. We operate in every state and we show that blacks must fight for their rights, for ascension in employment, for more achievements,” she says.

Aiming to combat discrimination and abolish prejudice with the hiring of more black men and women, the Sindicato dos Bancários de Mato Grosso (Union of Bank workers of Mato Grosso  or MT-SEEB) mobilized in a national day of action to discuss with the population about the role of blacks in society, especially in banks, and the need for more hiring in bank branches as a sign of equality.

“I was questioned about why the act for the hiring of more black men and women and being that there are public courses for working in banks. I noticed that this happens in public banks, but in the private banks prejudice is explicit in evaluation criteria. Not to mention that when a black man or black woman is a pubic banking servant, the difficulties for career advancement are greater, and it also occurs in the private sector. There are cases where not all bank employees are informed about internal promotions in the bank”, says the chairman of SEEB-MT, Arilson da Silva.

A bank employee of a private bank in the city of Cuiabá says that he doesn’t feel discriminated against in the workplace and that the position he held was won because of his professional competence. But he confesses that he has been through many situations of prejudice in other environments. “I try not to reveal this, not to argue with these kinds of prejudiced people who make insinuations. I always seek to keep my head up.”

Cuiabá, Mato Grosso
Cuiabá, Mato Grosso

Stories like that of this bank employee are a minority in the banks. Data on black men and women in the labor market, they constitute 35.7% of the Economically Active Population (População Economicamente Ativa – PEA), and occupy only 19% of jobs in the financial system. Moreover, blacks earn on average 64% of the salary paid to whites. The situation is even more serious in the case of black women, who are even more discriminated against in the job sector. In the state of Mato Grosso, according to the Map of the Diversity of the Brazilian Federation of Banks (Febraban) from 2009, 19% of bank workers were black men, and among black women bank workers, this index is lower, 13%.

Among the cases of bias in banks, there is a report of a bank employee who declined to be identified, who claims to have suffered discriminatory acts which were done because of the color of her skin. “I have suffered a lot during my career as a bank employee. There are times when we have to live in constant affirmation to prove that the position we occupy is deserved. Not to mention that when something goes wrong, the black person is always the prime suspect. Today things have improved, but I’ve been through each one. You can’t deny that we go through difficulties when the time comes to ensure career advancement”, says the employee.

Taking to the streets and provoking discussion on the issue of black men and women in Brazil is a bold move. This is the assessment of the Secretary of Social Policies of the National Confederation of Workers of the Financial Branch, Deise Recoaro, about the day for fighting for the hiring of more black men and women in the banks. She notes that actions taken by SEEB-MT and other unions of Brazil are a trade union mission and a daring act that should be encouraged.

“It’s fitting for the union to act for a better society and a more just reality. The Map of Diversity that highlighted data on black men and women who work in the financial industry motivated us to take action and take the issue that prejudice against black still exists to the streets. Banks must act for inclusion by more hiring. Our struggle is for diversity, for the inclusion of black men, black women, the handicapped, for respect to all. This question will be debated at the negotiating table during the salary campaign and our fight for more victories,” she concludes.

Source: Matupá News

About Marques Travae 3747 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.

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