What can (and should) a company do to combat racism?

In the last few weeks, the whole world has been impacted by a series of demonstrations whose agenda was the fight against racism. Such events were triggered after the death of George Floyd, a black man who died of suffocation by a white policeman in the United States. In social networks, hashtags with #BlackLivesMatter and #BlackOutTuesday took the top of the relevant issues and made several companies and brands stand on the subject. This raised a question: do organizations, in fact, have actions and responsibilities with racial issues that go beyond a post on the social network raising an ephemeral flag?

Data from several surveys show the obvious: there is still an abyss of racial segregation in labor relations. According to the Ethos Institute, blacks occupy only 6.3% of management positions and 4.7% of the executive board of the 500 best companies in Brazil. This number worsens when we highlight black women, who have an even less expressive number, in which only 1.6% are managers and 0.4 are executives.

Another study tries to understand what needs to be done at the state and organization level so that such inequality can decrease. Eliane Conceição and Peter Spink, authors of the article “Which foot first: diversity management and affirmative action in Brazilian business”, note that the sum between the lack of state actions and the lack of diversity management practices in organizations reinforces the disparity racial discrimination in the workplace. They also point out that the best way is for the state to position itself through affirmative actions, forcing companies to adopt practices that support racial diversity. Without policies like this, it will be quite difficult to combat this problem. In Brazil, for example, there is still a burden of social contrast by race since the time of slavery, in addition to a strong disbelief among the population that racism does not exist.

That is why just entering the wave of a movement, however important it is, is not enough. Publishing a post with a hashtag raising a cause, without your brand or you as an individual having enough ownership on the subject, necessary to debate why movements like this are important, is to raise a banner of appearances. Talking about racism is necessary and needs to be discussed within companies with employees so that racist acts cease to occur as an unfortunate common situation.

And how to start talking about? Who speaks? Where to start? Everyone with an active voice can (and should) be the leader of agendas on diversity and inclusion. Within the structure of companies, it is mainly the role of leaders, HR and partners, to be active in embracing these causes and bringing these guidelines to add value with relevant information. Lectures with guests who have ownership of the cause, conversation circles, internal research, engagement campaigns and the spread of information in breaking the cycle of structural prejudice. The paths for each one to do their part are as diverse as possible.

There is still a long way to go before we can say that there is racial equality in the labor market. It is essential, especially at this moment, for organizations to reflect on their actions, give voice and space to blacks and help to build a new reality and not just another beautiful speech.

Post-pandemic Home Office: the new challenge for companies.

The pandemic forced the labor market to adopt new models for companies to continue operating. One of these models is the home office. It is not exactly new, as this movement already existed and was already applied by several organizations, however, it is still a great challenge for many organizations that decided to apply it for the first time.

According to the Center for the Study of Telecommuting and Flexible Work Alternatives – CETEL, in 2018 there were about 10 million Brazilians working via home office, a number that is underestimated, as several companies do not formalize this work model. For the post-pandemic period, André Miceli, Coordinator of the Digital marketing MBA at the Getúlio Vargas Foundation (FGV), André Miceli, estimates that this modality may grow by around 30%, as many companies that have adopted it have perceived benefits such as increased productivity and savings with transportation, in addition to the employees themselves having also seen the positive side of teleworking, such as coexistence with family, organization and flexible working hours and comfort.

In a study carried out with 705 professionals from Fundação Dom Cabral in partnership with Grant Thornton, 54% of respondents are negotiating with the possibility of continuing in the home office. The numbers achieved show that there is an agreement between employees and companies on the results that this model can bring. However, research also raises the challenges of applying telework without prior planning. Infrastructure and technology problems, which do not belong to company employees, such as a leadership not yet prepared to deal with these changes, which represent about 2/3 of the respondents’ responses. In addition, we have the information security, which concerns about 54% of employees who research.

It is very clear that applying a new work model can have a series of positive results, as well as challenges. In the post-pandemic moment, it is up to the Company Managers to analyze all the results achieved with the home office and assess whether it makes sense to maintain it, and how to do it in an organized manner. As Tawan Pimentel, manager of Home Office Management, says, “It is not a binary thing. You are either at the company, or at home. Most of the customers we serve implement once or twice a week ”. Therefore, it is important to understand employees and take small steps so that the results of this process are beneficial in the long term, aiming at quality of life and productivity, for all fronts involved.

Happiness at work: a driver of results.

Is it possible to achieve happiness at work? Many studies show that yes! And that is why organizations are trying to understand how to make their employees happier. It is certainly not an easy task, since it is a feeling that manifests itself in different ways in each person, as well as being very subjective for it to be measured.

A study by Warwick University in the United Kingdom showed that happy employees can be up to 20% more productive than unsatisfied ones, in addition, the turnover rate of the organization tends to decrease.

For positive psychology, happiness can be achieved based on 5 factors:

  1. Positive emotion;
  2. Engagement;
  3. Sense of life;
  4. Positive achievement;
  5. Positive relationships.

Through these points it is possible to create healthy relationships and routines that will permeate not only the professional aspect, but also the personal aspect, allowing the employee to achieve a fuller state of happiness and not just a momentary idea of ​​joy.

In addition, the idea of ​​purpose is also directly linked to the scope of that feeling. Working for something you believe in, achieving positive results that make sense directly impacts the employee’s sense of well-being. However, it is important to be careful, because the idea of ​​purpose can make the employee extremely dependent on work. Research by historian and sociologist Richard Sennett has shown that individuals who see their employer as an important source of personal meaning are the ones who suffer most when they are fired, losing not only their job, but also the promise of happiness.

Some tips can help companies in their quest to explore this natural source of results that is happiness. Among them is the return for results achieved, whether in financial or personal recognition; Give autonomy and empowerment in carrying out activities and making decisions; Have a light work environment with teamwork; Propose challenges for employees, as this gives the feeling of growth and learning; And finally, but also very important, to show the employee the importance of the balance between career and personal life.

The last point mentioned needs special attention, because according to the Special Secretariat for Social Security and Labor, the number of dismissals due to professional exhaustion grew 114% in 2018, compared to the previous year, a very worrying number. For researchers Yerkes and Dodson, maintaining a certain level of stress and pressure is beneficial for productivity, however, when in excess it directly affects the results and the employee’s happiness.

Therefore, for an organization to be successful in promoting employee happiness, it is necessary to have a critical sense with the team, understand the reality of the scenario and act with thoughtful and planned actions. After all, not everything is entertainment and joy, but also does not reach the point of generating burn-out. Balance is the best medicine for personal well-being and professional results.