Myths and prejudices: Afro-Brazilians are make up only 3.5% of heads of Brazil’s largest companies
Lia Maria dos Santos is an economist and a plastic artist. She is currently unemployed but says she does a lot of interviews
Priscilla Borges of iG Brasília
Changing the trajectoryof blacks in the labor market will take a long time. The 122 that separate thecountry from the time when they were slaves have not been not been enough toput them near the white population in the labor market. The most recent dataplotting this scenario is 2008.
That year, varioussurveys show that blacks continued to occupy less senior positions and morejobs for less qualified work. According to the Ethos Institute and Ibope, only3.5% of Afro-Brazilian workers were heads of Brazil’s largest companies.
The social, racial and gender profile of the 500 largest companies in Brazil and Affirmative Action,done two years ago, revealed that whites occupied 94% of executive positions.The research is part of a series that was also conducted in 2003 and 2005, theresults of showed little improvement in the participation of blacks inpositions of leadership: from 1.8% in the first study to 3.5%. in 2007.
In the conclusions ofthe study, researchers show an “imbalance” between the representationof Afro-Brazilians descent in the population (49.5%) and the staffs of theselarge companies (25.1%). “There is a clear under-representation of blacksin large Brazilian companies. As in the case of women, there is a bottleneckhierarchy: the higher the position, the lower the participation of blackpeople”, wrote the authors of the publication.
Lia Maria dos Santos,30, has faced innumerous prejudices, even being the daughter of publicemployees of the Itamary (Ministry of External Relations). “It clicks(with people) that racism exists when one realizes the discrimination in theway they look at you in the store or the mall for no reason,” she says.Leah lived in Africa as a child and in Cuba as a teenager.
A plastic artist thatgraduated from University of Brasilia, Lia also studied economics, she is alsostudying for a Master’s Degree in public policy in the area of education forblack women, speaks several languages and has also served as a consultant. Atthe moment, she is unemployed. She has participated in several job interviewssince returning from a program of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland.
“I came to Braziland went to work in telemarketing earning R$1500 (per month). I stayed thereone week and left. It was no use”, she laments. Lia gives lectures at schoolsand organizations in an attempt to break the barriers of prejudice and showthat differences exist. “For us to break barriers, it is necessary toconfront the myths and prejudices.”
Danielle Valverde, aneducation specialist of the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM)Brazil and the Southern Cone, said that racism structures social relations inBrazil. “It persists beyond slavery. When we get the statistics, we findinequalities in education, economic status, and health. In the labor market,blacks have less prestigious jobs and receive lower wages.”
A study released in2008 by the Inter-Union Department of Statistics and Socioeconomic Studies(Departamento Intersindical de Estatística e Estudos Socioeconômicos – Dieese)points out that in the last four years, there was very little growth in thenumber of blacks in positions of leadership and management. In 2004, the indicewas 5.7%. In 2008, it went to 6%.
In Salvador, where theblack population is the majority (85% of the economically active population),whites occupy three times more command posts than blacks. Most black workersare in jobs that don’t require qualification.
For the UNIFEMspecialist, it is necessary to combine different actions to change the reality:to punish the crimes of racism and adopt universal policies. “Affirmativeactions are instituted by different countries as a solution to provide opportunitiesfor access to education, health and work to populations historicallydiscriminated against. If they were in fact state policies, this inequalitywould decrease”, says Danielle.
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