Diversity in all its shapes

CCBC promotes forum with specialists to discuss the theme and bring Canada’s experience

By Sérgio Siscaro

Diversity, equity and inclusion are increasingly present themes in companies. Whether due to the relevance of the topic in society or the awareness that unconscious biases that are still present in employee attraction and retention processes must be combated, the subject has been the focus of discussions around the world. The Chamber of Commerce Brazil-Canada (CCBC), through its Diversity and Inclusion Committee, has also been working to increase the participation of minority groups in companies. Its most recent initiative in this regard was the Brazil-Canada Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Forum, which took place on November 23.

Held in a hybrid manner (in person, at CCBC’s headquarters, and with transmission via the Zoom platform), the event had two main axes: the discussion on the inclusion of people with disabilities (PWDs) in the labor market, and the challenges companies face in increasing ethnic and gender diversity in their workforce.

The opening speech was given by the Consul General of Canada in São Paulo, Heather Cameron, who talked about initiatives in her country to expand the participation of PWDs in companies – such as Challenge 50-30, an initiative of the Canadian federal government in partnership with companies and organizations focused on diversity, and that seeks to increase the representation and inclusion of various publics – with the goal that companies have 50% of female presence in their teams, and 30% of minority groups.

“Many [Canadian] companies are now recognized for their responsible conduct in this regard. Their role is crucial in adopting inclusive practices that benefit themselves and society,” she said, adding that it is important that these values are shared by Brazil, since the country is an important trading partner of Canada. 

Accessibility on the agenda

The challenges of including PWDs and the creation of unconscious biases in the workplace – which end up influencing recruitment and promotion decisions, for example – were the focus of the first block of the forum, entitled The Future is Accessible.

The segment was mediated by Pascale Thivierge, from the Canadian Consulate-General in São Paulo,  with the participation of Júlia Drezza, from Mais Diversidade, a consultancy that works with the elaboration, monitoring, and evaluation of diversity policies in the workplace; Maria Paz, from the Trench, Rossi, Watanabe Advogados law firm; and Hellen de Oliveira and Jessé Rodrigues, both from the PCD+ consultancy, focused on inclusion processes in companies.

A common point in the discussion was the urgency to fight against disabilities – that is, discrimination based on the perception that a PWD could not perform certain activities. Only in this way would it be possible, according to Drezza, to create a culture of inclusion and accessibility. “We all have unconscious biases. Only when we educate ourselves we can ‘change the key’,” added Oliveira.

For more representation

The next topic, Ethnic and Gender Diversity in Companies, brought perceptions about how these issues are addressed in organizations – whether in the recruitment process, in the day-to-day work environment, or in training and career development policies. 

The mediation was done by Anouk Bergeron-Laliberté, senior trade commissioner and head of the commercial sector at the Canadian Consulate-General in São Paulo, and the panel included the participation of Carine Bruxel, chief transformation officer and partner at Datum TI; Luanny Faustino, from the consultancy CKZ, specialized in awareness programs for diversity and inclusion issues; and Clara Serva, partner at the law firm Tozzini Freire Advogados.

In her introduction, the representative of the Canadian Consulate pointed to the country’s advances in terms of diversity and inclusion, and the country’s policy of seeking to disseminate these values – including by including them in free trade agreements with other nations.  “We try to influence other countries to adopt these values, for the benefit of all! In the same way, we try to encourage this culture in companies,” she said.

The various ways of trying to bring this culture to companies, and the challenges that have been encountered – and overcome – were addressed in this part of the forum. As a representative of a company that operates in the information technology (IT) segment, whose workforce is mostly male, Bruxel pointed out that it wasn’t always like this: “In the 1960s and 1970s, it was women who developed technological innovations in this area. With the rise of the Silicon Valley big techs, a culture began to exist that this activity was ‘a boy thing’, discouraging the participation of women,” she pondered. 

The issue of intersectionality – that is, the overlapping of different identities (ethnic, gender, etc.) was raised by Faustino. “We have to think about cognitive diversity, in order not to simply put people in boxes! And companies have to pay attention to that breadth; a diverse company and one that mirrors the society in which it is embedded.”

Public recognition

During the forum’s break, Esther Nunes, CCBC’s vice president and coordinator of the Chamber’s Diversity and Inclusion Commission, announced that the entity would receive, that same day, the Paulista Diversity Seal – an initiative of the São Paulo state government aimed at public, private and civil society organizations that develop good practices in promoting and valuing diversity. CCBC was awarded in the “Adhesion” category, which recognizes organizations that are in the planning and implementation phase of their diversity policy.

“This is an important recognition for the Chamber. This proves that every action developed is extremely relevant not only to improve the debate, but also to improve our society as a whole,” said Nunes, adding that the “path is long, but we need to set goals and bring equity to all groups of people”.

Those interested in watching the Brazil-Canada Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Forum can access it here.