Like many countries, Brazil has a brutal history of racism. Since the arrival of the first European settlers, Indigenous peoples have been slaughtered for hundreds of years. Brazil imported more slaves than any other country and was the last country in the Americas to abolish slavery, in 1888. And today, in a country where more than half the population is black, blacks hold less than 1 in 100 business leadership positions, according to one study.
The fight for equality has gained momentum in recent years, fueled in part by a wave of affirmative action programs. In 2020, Magazine Luiza, a Brazilian retail giant with more than 1,400 stores, announced that its executive training program would be open only to black applicants.
The announcement sparked a national debate. Many conservatives in Brazil have criticized the company, calling its policies racist, while many on the left have applauded it. “We’ve been ‘cancelled’ on social media, even by members of Congress,” said Frederico Trajano, managing director of Magazine Luiza. Yet since then, similar policies in Brazil “have taken off”, he said. “The number of new initiatives is impressive.
In the United States, companies such as Google, Twitter and JP Morgan have introduced minority-restricted internship programs in recent years, designed as a way to create a more diverse talent pool. But while many efforts have been made to diversify the white-collar workforce at many U.S. companies, U.S. law generally prohibits job postings that show a preference for a specific race.
In Brazil, several recent court rulings upheld affirmative action policies, making the law clearer that companies can give preference to black and indigenous employees, said Elisiane Santos, a prosecutor with the federal prosecutor’s office in Brazil. work. “It’s definitely legal,” she said.
As a result, companies have become bolder. So when Laut, a research institute in São Paulo, published its ad for a financial coordinator who “gave preference” to black and indigenous applicants, the decision was hardly groundbreaking. It was more surprising when, three days later, on February 28, LinkedIn removed the ad and told Laut, the Center for the Analysis of Freedom and Authoritarianism, in an email that the list violated its policies.