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Black leadership: overcoming challenges towards equality

Currently in Brazil, only 30% of company leaders are black (IBGE). The lack of racial diversity in leadership positions reveals the structural racism that prevents black professionals from reaching their full potential.

The theme, which opens the last day of The Bridge Summit, is presented by Euripedes Magalhães (Senior UX Manager at OLX Brasil) and André Nunes (CTO and Startup Mentor at Bagy), in the webinar “Accelerating black leadership”.

Racial diversity has been proven to guarantee better results for companies. Racially and ethnically diverse companies are 35% more likely to perform better (McKinsey), and 85% of CEOs with diverse and inclusive cultures have seen increased profits (Deloitte).

Companies that seek innovation but do not invest in diversity are going in the opposite direction, as it takes a different look to generate solutions that solve real problems for people who are diverse.

In addition to improving company results, racial diversity and real inclusion are increasingly intense social demands. The Black Lives Matter movement has been a great amplificator for the urgency for concrete actions of inclusion and historical repair.

But if all the data point to the inclusion of black people in business spaces, what prevents this from being a reality?

Challenges for black leadership

Due to structural racism, the experience of black people is, statistically, very different from  white people. Opportunities for accessing training tools and professional advancement are structurally more scarce for the black population.

This means that the path to the development of black leaders must be designed in a personalized way for this profile, taking into account the way in which structural racism affects the training of these professionals and compromises their growth.w3

However, statistics show that 70% of positions with decision-making power are filled by white people (IBGE). As they do not feel the effects of racism, the black presence is essential even to develop fairer processes aimed at promoting diversity in companies.

But if increasing diversity is the first step, how to do it urgently?

Promoting real change

Ensuring real conditions for black people to access leadership positions in the corporate space is essential to promote racial diversity. Here are some measures that can be taken towards equality:

Diversity and Inclusion Committee

Delegating people responsible for the diversity and inclusion agenda in the company, especially people hired to take care of the matter, ensures that the matter is not forgotten and that it is part of the culture.

The committee must be responsible for providing information and training on diversity to all employees, as well as guiding and leading the company to become a safe environment free from prejudice of any kind.

Specific selective processes for black people

Important companies have spearheaded recruitment processes that only accept black people. This type of affirmative action has become popular, and the trend is for more companies to adopt similar strategies to attract black candidates.

Despite the fact that the measure has generated controversy in society, the character of positive discrimination, aimed at reversing the structural racism visible through the statistics presented in this article, guarantees its legitimacy.

Internal Qualification Programs

While specific admission programs for black people work very well to ensure the entry of these professionals, it is still necessary to create mechanisms to retain and develop their careers internally, ensuring that they advance through the corporate hierarchy.

Investing in an internal training plan for afro-descendant employees to reach leadership positions is one of the ways to ensure that there are always qualified black people to take over the management.

Breaking the cycle

We’ve seen how the lack of black people in corporate leadership is a real problem, preventing companies from being disruptive and innovative.

To change this scenario, it is essential that companies take responsibility for supporting the internal rise of black professionals.

Once structured policies are established to reverse structural racism in companies, it is everyone’s responsibility to strengthen them and collaborate so that inclusion takes place effectively.

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Ana Luiza Magalhães

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