Study maps gender equality within companies in Brazil
Law
10 January 2018

Study maps gender equality within companies in Brazil

An unprecedented survey mapped the role of women in leadership positions across 43 Brazilian companies and 45 multinational corporations among 14 economic sectors in Brazil, coordinated by FGV's Sao Paulo Law School (Direito SP).

An unprecedented survey mapped the role of women in leadership positions across 43 Brazilian companies and 45 multinational corporations among 14 economic sectors in Brazil. Coordinated by the “Gender Policies” professor of FGV’s Sao Paulo Law School (Direito SP), Ligia Paula Pires Pinto Sica, the study compiled a database that was used as reference to write the Women in Leadership Guide – created by Exame magazine and the Women in Leadership in Latin America (WILL) association.

“We found that the adoption of these policies is still rudimentary, at least at a national level,” said Lígia Sica.

Early results reviewed gender equality policies, practices and processes. According to the professor, the study focused primarily on developing an exclusive social sustainability methodology – in line with existing initiatives in Brazil and worldwide –, in the form of a questionnaire, in order to assess the practices and policies adopted by companies based in Brazil to promote and encourage the ascension and permanence of women in leadership positions, while also gauging the effectiveness in promoting such goals.

This stage was built around three premises: women are underrepresented in leadership positions within Brazilian companies; companies naturally have different levels of commitment, concern, or application of gender equality precepts within its processes; and companies based on a business model that considers managing the relationship with its stakeholders within its strategic alignment ultimately develop a lasting competitive edge.

The questionnaire was divided into three blocks, encompassing actions and areas of expertise that could be used as references for companies to address gender inequality situations, while incorporating welcoming and inclusion precepts into their cultures, and updating their processes and practices. The questions pertained to the company’s structure and processes, and also specifically to the company’s external and internal positioning regarding gender equality and women’s leadership.

Subsequently, the interviewed companies were ranked within their respective sectors after the practices and policies described by the companies in the self-assessment questionnaire were classified under six thematic pillars and reviewed by the researchers based on a scoring system, according to which each practice and policy was scored between -1 and +1, based on its potential to promote the ascension and permanence of women in leadership positions.

The data obtained from the questionnaire and each interviewee’s score was used to develop the Women in Leadership Guide. For example, it was established that some sectors have greater number of practices and policies designed to promote gender equality (particularly the consumer goods sector) compared to others (the service sector had the lowest score), but also that this does not necessarily entail a proportionally higher number of women in leadership positions (the healthcare sector did not stand out in the number of policies in place, but ranked first in the number of women in leadership positions.)

The study’s results were presented at the Women in Leadership Forum. During the event, the companies that stood out in their respective sectors, in one of the thematic pillars (Encouraging Women’s Leadership; Company Structure, Processes and Strategy; External Initiatives; Gender Equality Monitoring; Combating Gender Discrimination; and Balance between Personal and Professional Life), and based on their respective size, were awarded as a form of recognition and to serve as references for the market.

The survey conducted over the years 2016 and 2017 was jointly funded by Fundação Getulio Vargas and Banco Itaú, and is available at the website.

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