Mobility Policies, Leadership Development and Racial Inclusion

Mobility Policies, Leadership Development, and Racial Inclusion – what are you doing about it?

Brazil Talks recently hosted a panel to discuss the importance of data collection and analysis for the strategic development of mobility programs. The webinar is available on the website for those who want to watch it and it is very interesting.

In the occasion, which counted with the presentation of BGRS and PwC, the effective percentage by color/race in the Global Mobility programs surprised us a lot: of the professionals in the process of global mobility, 83% were white, 10% were of Asian origin, only 7% were brown and blacks did not reach 1%. This is PwC’s People Insights platform, involving 131 companies, 8 industries and over 1 million employees.

Facing my surprise (and I cannot hide my annoyance) with such numbers, we are trying to understand why and what can be done to change them. Currently the discussion of the issue of diversity and racial inclusion in black leadership development and global mobility programs has little space, but it should not.

A few months ago Forbes Magazine brought “Afrofuture” as its main theme. According to the article, “the future of Brazil is black”, in the sense that black protagonism is and will be fundamental for science, health, culture, the job market, and the economy of the country. Research shows that promoting a diverse and inclusive environment is much more than meeting a criterion determined by the Board of Directors, because the returns are palpable.

The adoption of anti-racist practices is a path with no return, but it must be done with extreme care and go beyond the special recruitment of black candidates for the trainee programs, as alerted by Deives Rezende, founding partner of Condurú Consultoria, with whom we talked about the subject. According to him, it is necessary to be very careful with the insertion of these black professionals, who need to be welcomed, with guidance and mentoring, because their history is different.

As the orientation and mentoring process matures, which also needs to be done consistently and as a moral imperative of any organization, the black professional will feel more prepared, but companies need to open up opportunities for these leaders to develop even further.

This was a finding brought to us by Leandro Lemos, Engineering Director at Dun & Bradstreet Consulting in Toronto, Canada. He told us that he sought an opportunity abroad because he couldn’t find room to develop as a leader in Brazil. This is what happens and what will happen to the organization that doesn’t promote a diverse environment and with development opportunities for black people, like Leandro: it will lose talents, a real waste.

In this context and going back to the topic of global mobility, when a professional is chosen for a short or long term assignment, it is because he or she is seen as a professional with clear development perspectives as a leader and capable of absorbing and transmitting the values of that organization.

If what we see now is still the same picture as decades past, that is, the choice of candidates for expatriation programs is still restricted, as a rule, to white men, we need to rethink this.

What can be done to change this scenario? Discussions about structural and institutional racism have become part of the agenda of companies, in the sense of revisiting policies and practices. Nowadays we still have more than accurate data in this sense.

In terms of global mobility, normally linked to the development of leadership and global competences, promoting greater racial inclusion would involve defining “quotas”, but with specific goals and, therefore, of a provisional nature, as Ian Nunjara, founder of the Black Office Institute, points out.

According to Ian, although many don’t look favorably upon quotas, it is necessary to promote equality and move away from the almost non-existent percentage of black professionals in the expatriation process that we mentioned at the beginning.

When we asked these three admirable black leaders what actions are necessary to change this scenario, besides those we have mentioned here, they summarized as follows:

Promote a cultural change in your company, but in a structured way and with zero tolerance for racist incidents. And you have to start, even if slowly, because this is not a race, but a marathon. It will require preparation, effort, and persistence;
Take care and listen to your talents, without ever forgetting the data. Research and understand the needs pointed out there;
The transformation needs to be immediate, but it needs to be clear and with objective goals. Transparency is the watchword and involves intentionality, because the actions, including in the area of mobility, need to be intentional.
Ian ended our conversation with the following sentence: “The future is black and this is a great idea. Or, in the words of former US president Barack Obama, “Diversity is a source of strength. It’s not charity. It’s not the right thing to do. It’s the smart thing to do.”