Boa tarde from Brazil and happy International Women's Day!
This week I'm attending the Boston College Global Workforce Roundtable meeting in São Paulo.
The city is not at all what I expected. It rivals Manhattan for the sheer density of skyscrapers. Unmitigated traffic congestion and pervasive construction sites contrast with the vibrant building murals, the graffiti, and the abrupt foliage which appears as one turns many street corners (including a swathe of original rainforest that's been preserved in the beautiful Trianon Park).
In the opening session of the meeting we learned the following facts about Brazil:
São Paulo is the sixth most populous city in the world
Brazil contains 20% of the entire world's biodiversity.
The country will host the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympic Games in 2016
Brazil is the only country to have held the world championship title for soccer five times
Did you notice that "world" occurred in all of those statements?
As one of the boom global economies, Brazil has enjoyed wide media coverage in recent years. Girls and women have been an integral part of that dialogue and not only because Brazil's 36th (and first female) President, Dilma Rousseff, assumed office last January and became the first woman ever to open a session of the UN General Assembly.
Notably, girls represent a majority at every level of education in Brazil's schools. In the last decade, females have also consistently accounted for a majority of both university enrollees and graduates.
A 2011 study by DiversityInc of multinational companies, found that in Brazil, women made up 41% of the workforce, 32% of management, and 22% of senior executives. Although these are encouraging figures when compared with global averages of women in management, the country struggles with equal pay (Brazilian women earn on average 30 percent less than their male counterparts.
During lunch, my colleagues from PwC Brazil - Mariza Souza and Patricia Loyola (there is a photo of the three of us below, in front of the Octávio Frias de Oliveira Bridge) updated me on all of their great diversity efforts.
Apart from taking action to facilitate better hiring and retention of ethnic minorities and people with disabilities, PwC Brazil recently piloted two female talent initiatives.
One - their program for part-time work aimed at new mothers - was featured recently in this Brazilian newspaper article.
The second female talent initiative is quite unique. Recognizing that new mothers were missing key "milestone" training that could potentially decelerate their development (for example mandatory line of service training for new managers), the firm implemented a policy whereby these mothers could bring their newborns and a caretaker of their choosing (i.e., a nanny, the baby's father) to the training to care for the infant. The schedule is prepared so that new mothers have requisite time to attend to nursing needs and the firm pays for the accommodation of the caretaker during the training.
Initial reactions to this program have been very positive and I look forward to hearing more from my colleagues in Brazil as they roll out these programs on a wider basis in the future.
I hope you all celebrate International Women's Day by thanking a woman who has contributed to your own development or done an exceptional job on one of your teams.