In recent years, the social dimension of the performance of companies, represented by the letter S in the acronym ESG (environment, social and governance, in English), has gained a lot of strength and visibility. The police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Jacob Blake and many others have heightened pressure from Black Lives Matter and other movements for financial investments to target companies that take concrete steps to address racial injustice and strengthen organizations who fight for equity.
It is worth remembering that, for a company to meet the ESG criteria, it needs to have practices that preserve natural resources, reduce the emission of pollutants and have a positive impact on the environment. It also needs to be proactive in tackling inequalities by engaging in the implementation of workplace equity policies. And it must ensure correctness and integrity in its corporate processes, preventing discrimination and harassment.
In 2018, the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), a traditional organization of the US black movement, announced the launch of the NAACP Minority Empowerment Exchange Traded Fund, which ranks companies based on their commitment to diversity and inclusion , requiring socially conscious investment focused on anti-racism.
In Brazil, the pressure of social movements for the creation of decent work environments is old and, nowadays, it continues to grow with pressures that focus on large corporations and investors, public organizations and civil society. In response, initiatives have been formed in this field, including the Pact for the Promotion of Racial Equity and the Mover – Movement for Racial Equity.
In 2007, we experienced an experience that could currently be classified as the first racial equity audit in Brazil, in an emblematic and complex sector that is banking. Ceert performed this work, after bidding, as a technical consultancy.
This process began in 2003, when, provoked by organizations of the black and union movement, the Public Ministry of Labor filed public civil actions against the five largest private banks with national operations, for discrimination against blacks and women, pleading that they adopt promotion policies of racial and gender equality. In the 2000/2001 Collective Bargaining Agreement, the theme “Equal Opportunities” had been included in collective bargaining.
As a result of these initiatives, in 2008, the Ceert Diversity and Equity Census was carried out, involving approximately 400 thousand employees in the national territory; good practices promoted by the banks were systematized; in addition, a qualitative research was carried out with the human resources areas of the banks and an action plan was drawn up for the implementation of the “Valorização da Diversidade” program for the segment.
The process was a shared construction and monitored by Contraf (National Confederation of Workers in the Financial System), the MPT (Public Ministry of Labor), the Commission on Human Rights and Minorities of the Chamber of Deputies and civil society organizations, among other institutions . In other words, strong institutions, living social movements and organs for the articulation and representation of workers are fundamental in the constitution of these processes.
Still on this trajectory started in 2007, two other censuses were carried out later in compliance with the clauses of the Collective Labor Agreement (2012/2013), one in 2013, and the other in 2018.
Independent, objective and holistic analyzes of an organization’s policies, practices, products, services and efforts to combat systemic racism are complex challenges that require quantitative and qualitative methodology, with visits to historical records and comparison of the organization’s performance with that of its peers .
And public sharing of audit results is critical. Only then will we be able to effectively deal with injustice and economic inequality.
There is still a lot to build on this road, but it is, unequivocally, a road with no return.