Brazilian companies realize that diversity isn't just marketing - it's also good for business
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Brazilian companies finally realize that diversity isn't just marketing - it's also good for business

It took a while, but Brazilian companies are finally starting to value a more diverse staff – and a group of recruiting startups is helping those with this belated epiphany to make up for lost time

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We order rides and food right on our cell phones, and we are getting ready to send people to Mars. Despite these and other remarkable achievements, in some departments mankind still seems to be in the Stone Age. For example, equal opportunities in the labor market. It has taken a while, but companies are finally starting to recognize and value diversity in their staff – and a group of recruiting startups is helping those with this belated epiphany to make up for the lost time.

In July, Gupy, an HR tech company with 20 million applicants on its roster, launched a kind of diversity solution. It helps companies make hiring processes fairer, more diverse, and more inclusive. It is an end-to-end solution to increase opportunities for minority audiences.

On the interface for applicants, it is possible to identify oneself as a part of a minority group. On the interface for recruiters, Gupy offers a wide range of features: “Tools to analyze, identify these groups, select people and, in the end, a series of analysis dashboards for them to understand where this recruitment funnel is happening: from which channels am I bringing more women? Am I missing black people at some point?”, explains Guilherme Dias, co-founder and CMPO at Gupy.

Guilherme Dias, co-founder and CMPO at Gupy. Photo: Courtesy

The early results of the initiative are already visible. By the end of August, among the almost 100 companies that joined the diversity solution, there was a 55% increase in the hiring of minority people. In those that have joined earlier, in the pilot phase, the percentage is even higher, 72%. Considering all hires, Gupy saw a 127.8% increase in women, non-white, LGBTQIA+, and people with disabilities hires in August and September compared to the same period in 2020.

The impressive results are great news and confirm the trend – all interviewees were unanimous in this regard, that there is a trend – but they also highlight the not very diverse background that companies are now facing, especially at higher hierarchical levels.

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Looking at Gupy’s global numbers, for example, the group that had the highest growth in hiring was black people to operational positions, 48.79% when comparing August/September with June/July. For leadership positions, however, only 3.19% of all hirings were of black people, and LGBTQIA+ people were not far ahead (3.87%).

A survey carried out between January and May by Revelo, a startup focused on technology recruitment, found out that only 1.6% of the invitations for recruitment processes in the period were sent to people with disabilities, a minority group that counts with a legal reserve of vacancies in companies with more than 100 employees, according to law 8.213/1991.

READ ALSO: Endeavor Brazil pledges to have 40% gender and race representation by 2025

Gupy’s Guilherme admits that there is still a long road ahead, but he is optimistic. “I really believe that companies are understanding that it is a responsibility,” he says. Such optimism comes from a series of factors, such as the public pressure, since customers are increasingly attentive to the companies’ gears and demanding that they reflect their values and the advantages that companies themselves discover when they embrace inclusion.

It’s not just marketing, but if it were it wouldn’t be a problem

In 1998, Andrea Schwarz found herself in a wheelchair. Soon after, she and Jaques Haber, her boyfriend, developed an accessibility guide for São Paulo city. It was the embryo of iigual, a consulting company dedicated to the inclusion of people with disabilities in the labor market.

“There are a lot of people who say, ‘oh, I’m searching for my purpose’. With us, it was the opposite: first, we found our purpose, and then we thought about what we were going to do,” Jaques says. From this thought came the idea of iigual.

Jaques Haber and Andrea Schwarz, iigual’s co-founders. Photo: Courtesy

Having started at a time when there were different expectations of inclusion, two decades later Jaques sees a change in attitude going on: “Companies are more interested in the issue and the leadership has included it in the discourse as well. Today, all of them are somehow concerned to at least say that they are in favor of an inclusive environment.”

READ ALSO: Women in leadership roles: 6 top executives on what it is like to be a female leader in LatAm

iigual has already helped 20,000 people to get a formal job in more than 1,000 companies. Although Jaques recognizes the change in the market’s stand towards hiring minority groups, he points out that there is still a gap between theory and practice, and that the practice of “diversity washing”, that is, doing it just for appearances’ sake, is still common.

For him, the inclusion efforts are still made more as a response to social demands than for the strategic value they add to the business. Which is not bad, he says. We are, in his analysis, in a transition.

It’s very positive. Companies want to be more inclusive, but they still don’t know exactly how to do it. Because it’s not just pushing a button and overnight you’re going to correct a whole social imbalance of centuries of fewer opportunities. [But] It’s a good moment because the subject is on the rise.

Jaques haber, iigual’s co-founder

The managers’ reason for looking more closely at inclusion is supported by research and studies carried out by consulting firms such as Deloitte and McKinsey, for example, which prove the benefits of diversity in the corporate environment. For Guilherme, these researches show “how more diverse environments impact innovation, impact the products development, in better services and processes.”

The market understanding today is that more diverse teams are more creative. If you put very similar people together, you will probably find very similar solutions. When you bring diverse people together, you add other realities, other experiences. That makes the team more flexible and more resilient, and that impacts productivity.

Juliana Carneiro, CMO at Revelo

One of Revelo’s inclusion initiatives is to offer free access to the transgender public the Revelo Up program, which finances courses aimed at training and quickly finding a job. The company has signed a partnership with Casa Florescer, a center that welcomes transgender women in São Paulo city.

“The need for technology professionals is huge, we – I mean, Brazil – can’t supply it, and at the same time, we have people who are unemployed for systemic reasons of low education, low family support…”, explains Juliana. “So we decided to attack these two fronts.”

Juliana Carneiro, CMO at Revelo. Photo: Gabriel Reis/Courtesy

Gupy, which has among its four co-founders two women – one of them black – and two LGBTQIA+ people, also detected the gap in training. In October, it acquired for an undisclosed amount Niduu, a corporate education startup. At the time, co-founder and CEO Mariana Dias said the deal was a way to enable “companies to develop their employees at the speed and quality that business and people need.”

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There are many other challenges in promoting diversity within companies, such as career growth opportunities and eliminating pay gaps due to discriminatory criteria. Revelo’s 2020 survey of 27,000 professionals found that while the average salary for developers is between BRL 6.4 and BRL 9,700, only 30.5% of female professionals get wages in this range. And only 9.2% of women have a long career, with more than seven years.

In any case, as Jaques argues, there is a growing interest in diversity in the professional environment that, whether genuine or motivated by external pressure, has driven real change. In other words, recruitment startups say, it’s not just about marketing – the bold, short-term goals would be a sign of a real commitment.

I can hardly believe it’s just marketing. It would be easier, if it was, just to set smaller goals, but I see that those who are taking on this responsibility are stepping out of their comfort zone, are setting challenging goals. I think it’s because they want to make a difference.

Guilherme Dias, co-founder and CMPO at Gupy

“I can’t say for every company,” says Revelo’s Juliana, “but I’m sure there are many [companies] that raise that flag authentically.”

(Translated by Carolina Pompeo)