Jobs in Brazil: Exclusion Is the Norm

     Jobs in Brazil: Exclusion 
Is the Norm

    According to a new
    IBOPE study, 74 percent of the companies
    in Brazil have no blacks among their corps of directors. In 58
    percent of the 500 largest firms, women do not figure among the
    holders of the highest executive positions. And of the 6,016 women
    who exercise managerial functions, only 372 are black.
    by: Alana


    The 500 largest companies in Brazil say that they are concerned about eliminating
    inequalities in labor relations. However, according to a study sponsored by
    the Ethos Institute and released on May 27 at the Federation of Industries
    of the State of Rio de Janeiro (Firjan), many of these companies obstruct
    racial and social diversity by adopting a culture of exclusion.

    The study, "Social,
    Racial, and Gender Profile of the 500 Largest Companies in Brazil and their
    Affirmative Actions," prepared by the IBOPE (Brazilian Institute of Public
    Opinion and Statistics) at the request of the Ethos Institute, reveals that
    women, although they have made significant advances on the labor market, occupy
    only 9 percent of the executive posts in these companies. Women hold 18 percent
    of the managerial positions and are foremen and section heads in 28 percent
    of the cases.

    For the president of the
    Firjan’s Business Social Responsibility Council, Luiz Chor, these are worrisome
    data. He recalled, however, that the Ethos Institute study gives an indication
    of the firms’ concern over social responsibility, which is a positive sign.

    In racial terms, the study
    shows that 74 percent of the firms in Brazil have no blacks among their corps
    of directors. In 58 percent of the 500 largest firms, women do not figure
    among the holders of the highest executive positions. Of the 6,016 women who
    exercise managerial functions, only 372 are black, and there are only 3 blacks
    among the 339 female executives in these large companies.

    According to Professor
    Hélio Santos, of the University of São Marcos, in São
    Paulo, the study demonstrates that "the companies do not favor female
    or black talents. A culture of exclusion exists." Black females are singled
    out as those who are least valued on the job market.

    In terms of salary, the
    document indicates that the average monthly income of black workers is 50
    percent that of their white counterparts, although 40 percent of the firms
    that were surveyed have policies to raise the participation of representatives
    of racial minorities and bearers of disabilities in the job market.

    Earlier this year, the
    special secretary for Racial Equality (Políticas de Promoção
    da Igualdade Racial), Matilde Ribeiro, said that unfortunately cases of racial
    discrimination are a daily occurrence in Brazil.

    "They are nuanced
    and shadowy affairs that get excused because people pretend they are something
    else," she explained. Ribeiro cited two recent cases: a group of Blacks
    were refused accommodations in Brasilia and, in São Paulo, a Black
    dentist was killed by police who thought he was a thief.

    Ribeiro declared that
    much remains to be done, but that the existence of the Racial Equality secretariat
    was a step forward in strengthening affirmative actions in the never ending
    fight for true equality.

    Since March, 15 percent
    of the resources in the government’s Workers Assistance Fund (FAT) is being
    set aside to encourage youngsters, blacks, and women to enter the job market.

    The resources should be
    made available to central unions and offices of the National Employment System
    (Sine), which will place priority on young people over 16 who are looking
    for their first job, individuals over 40 with primary school or less, women
    who have not attended university, and the black population. The resources
    will amount to US$ 20 million and benefit around 150 thousand people.

    55 Million Excluded

    Data presented earlier
    this year by the International Labor Organization (ILO), in the 2003 Labor
    Panorama, show that over 55 million Brazilians, that is, the majority of the
    economically active population, face problems of social exclusion.

    According to the study,
    blacks and women have difficulties finding places in the job market and obtaining
    adequate conditions of remuneration and social protection, when compared with
    white males. 55 percent of Brazilian women participate in the job market,
    above the 45 percent average for Latin America.

    The unemployment rate
    varied between 6 percent and 9 percent between 1992 and 2001 for all age brackets
    and educational levels. However, the unemployment rate for women and blacks
    was 50 percent greater than for white males in 1992 and 58 percent greater
    in 2001.

    The study also reveals
    differences in the distribution of men and women and white and blacks in the
    formal and informal sectors of the economy. According to the research, the
    criteria of selection taken into account in job contracts are racial, ethnic,
    and gender characteristics, instead of level of schooling or talent. This
    discrimination drives the excluded population into the informal market.

    In 2001, while the percentage
    of men engaged in the informal sector corresponded to 51 percent, among women
    the level was 7.2 percent greater. The data also reveal that one in every
    three Brazilian women is not paid or performs domestic tasks. In the case
    of domestic workers, only one in every four has signed working papers.

    Among blacks, the unemployment
    rate reached 10.6 percent in 2001, exceeding that of whites by 2.5 percent.
    In the case of black women, 13.8 percent were unemployed in 2001. Among black
    women, 23.9 percent work in domestic service, and 41.9 percent exercise activities
    without remuneration.

    With regard to those in
    the population with higher education, the labor market tends to place greater
    value on men than on women, with the exception of "typically female"
    jobs, such as elementary school teachers and nurses.

    The ILO data were obtained
    from the IBGE’s National Residential Sample Survey (PNAD).

    Alana Gandra works for Agência Brasil (AB), the official press agency
    of the Brazilian government. Comments are welcome at

    from the Portuguese by David Silberstein.

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