Facade diversity (or diversity washingin the expression in English) are promises of diversity and inclusion of ethnic, regional, gender – and other minorities – that do not translate into effective actions to change the culture of companies.
The concept of diversity washing follows the same logic as greenwashingan expression created by the American environmentalist Jay Westerveld, in the 1980s, to designate practices announced as environmentally responsible but which, in fact, result in damage to the environment.
Since then, the suffix washing came to be used to designate other hypocritical practices, including empty promises of diversity that are restricted to communication and mask the reality within corporations.
Whether to be aligned with market trends or to raise flags that attract the attention of minority groups – with an eye on the purchasing power of the LGBTQIA+ (pink money) and black (black money) communities, for example -, to make up for the lack of representation, it is often simpler and more frequent than investing in awareness and inclusion policies.
Although a benchmarking study carried out by the startup Blend Edu, which helps organizations to promote diversity actions, shows that only 5% of companies admit that the objective of their programs aimed at including minority groups is to “potentiate brand reputation”, there are indicators that reveal a lack of solidity in relation to the theme.
Among 45 large Brazilian companies committed to inclusion and diversity heard by the survey, 88% carry out campaigns and actions to promote inclusive communication externally and internally – promoting internal events, such as diversity week and black awareness day, for example.
Out of the spotlight, however, results regarding effective measures to change organizational culture are low: 35% of these companies have mentoring or similar programs to form diverse talent pools within the organization; 18% develop awareness training on the subject for the board of directors, and 15% carry out actions to enhance diversity in promotion decisions.
As much as there are still many companies masking inclusion, facade diversity is not a smart billing strategy. A McKinsey survey of more than a thousand large companies in 15 countries, including Brazil, revealed that companies more committed to diversity and inclusion (D&I, in corporate jargon) have relatively higher financial results compared to “non-diverse” organizations. The analysis indicates that the difference in performance between those with the highest and lowest levels of gender diversity reaches 48%.
For the head of talent curation at the Mais Diversidade consultancy, Amanda Aragão, changing diversity policies in the workplace needs to go beyond specific actions and requires a broad process of transformation in the corporate culture. “I see many companies skating this goal, because it seems complex to change something that is so rooted. But companies that have been successful in making this change set goals, do training so that everyone understands the legitimacy of these actions.”
Diversity and inclusion in practice
In line with Amanda’s perception of well-structured goals, since 2020 the giants Avon and Natura, both of the Natura&Co group, have seen responsibility for diversity as part of their values for a long time and continue to draw up plans to become increasingly inclusive. . Also in 1955, Avon created the Avon Foundation for Women, in the United States, whose first project was a program that offered scholarships to women.
In 1992, Avon American was named one of the 25 best workplaces by Black Enterprise magazine. Natura, on the other hand, began discussions on the inclusion of people with disabilities in the 1980s, before it was a legal requirement. Since then, the two companies have invested in projects for more diversity.
Six years ago, Avon created the Network for Diversity, which works as a hub to promote gender, ethnic-racial, people with disabilities and the LGBTQIA+ population within the company. As part of this and the Anti-Racist Commitment, robust planning for racial equity, Avon has committed to a series of public goals.
Thus, the initiatives spread, and last year the DIVA Project (Diversity + Avon) was born, focused on the recruitment of professionals who identify themselves as black and brown, as well as the Divas Potentes and Fast Track programs, aimed at the development of these talents together with black market leaders and consultancies.
DIVA also yielded results and led to an event with black women leading reflections and debates on their stories and on topics such as people management, careers and personal empowerment. “The Diversity Network was created to accelerate the achievement of the goals present in the company’s Anti-Racist Commitment, which, since 2020, provides for a series of goals until 2030, such as 30% of black women in leadership positions, hiring 50% of black people , literacy and awareness of the teams, support for black female entrepreneurship and greater black representation in the areas of Communication, Human Resources, Marketing and Sales”, says Daniella Moura, director of Human Resources at Avon Brasil.
She also highlights the discussions promoted by Clube do Livro, periodic actions aimed at the LGBTQIA+ community, such as Avon Pride and the Violet Month, and the company’s participation in events to raise awareness of this group’s initiatives. Moura also highlights the work done in the Nascer Bem program, which guides families during pregnancy or adoption processes, and provides support for fathers and mothers to return to their professional activities.
On Natura’s side, a similar commitment to the Network for Diversity was signed in 2014 and, as of 2019, a project of policies for valuing diversity entered the company’s strategic plan. In 2020, as Natura &Co, the company released the “Commitment to Life 2030”, a plan to tackle some of the most pressing issues.
“The goal is to ensure that our workforce reflects the demographic makeup of the societies in which we operate. This was the first time that a publicly traded multinational company has committed to identifying the participation of underrepresented groups in its workforce. As we are in more than 100 countries, this implies relevant challenges, given the different laws regarding the processing of personal data and data protection in each market,” explains the Diversity and Inclusion manager at Natura&Co Latin America, Milena Buosi. .
In Brazil, one of the practical examples of the commitment is the Black People Acceleration Program, which takes place in all group companies – Avon, Natura, The Body Shop and Aesop – to increase representation in managerial positions. “Over the course of a year, employees participate in training and debates on racial demands, interpersonal skills, priority behaviors, culture, in addition to the possibility of learning or improving fluency in a new language,” says Buosi.
Among the goals set by the group, the manager highlights the desire to: increase from 35% to 50% the proportion of women in senior leadership and on the board of directors, worldwide, by 2023; achieve gender pay parity by 2023; have 30% of professionals from under-represented groups in management positions by 2030. The objective of occupying 50% of leadership positions with women has already been achieved: there are currently 56% of women in these positions. In the coming years, Buosi believes that the group’s gaze should also turn to the generational issue and refugees.
“The greater the representation in the teams, the greater the plurality of ideas thanks to the diversity of perspectives and experiences among employees. This provides possibilities to innovate and develop solutions capable of reaching more profiles of consumers and representatives, generating better products and services and better results. profitable for the business”, defends Moura.
Amazing Places to Work
The Incredible Places to Work Award is an initiative by UOL and FIA to recognize companies that have the best practices in people management. The winners are defined based on the FIA Employee Experience (FEEx) survey, which measures the quality of the work environment, the strength of the organizational culture, the leadership’s performance style and satisfaction with HR services. Registration for the 2022 edition is open and runs until May 30.