Czeslaw Walek, Out & Equal Global Fellowby Czeslaw Walek, Out & Equal Global Fellow


Brazil is the host country of this year’s Summer Olympics, which brings it into the spotlight. The World will look beyond the organization of the sporting events and instead focus on Brazil’s political situation. People will take note of Brazil’s social, cultural and economic status. Out & Equal decided to look at the life of an LGBT individual in the workplace, due to many of its corporate partner’s affiliation in Brazil.

Brazil is a contradictory country in regards to the condition of LGBT people in society. For example, Brazilian government celebrates sexual diversity and grants equal rights to LGBT people by passing legislation for same-sex marriage and anti-discrimination laws. However, Brazil has the highest LGBT murder rate in the world. A gay rights group, Grupo Gay da Bahia, reported that in 2014, the pace of killings in a homophobic or transphobic attacks in Brazil was close to one a day

LGBT people in Brazil enjoy many of the same legal protections available to non-LGBT people. Since 2013, same-sex couples enjoy the freedom to marry. The rights of LGBT people are protected in regards to the age of consent, the legality of adoption, changing gender markers on legal documents and the banning of conversion therapy. The Brazilian Constitution prohibits all forms of discrimination and the Labor Code implements this principle implements penalties for discriminatory practices.

Despite the fact that workplace discrimination is illegal in Brazil, 20% of employers refuse to hire LGBT people. Brazilian companies do not join multinational companies in their diversity & inclusion successes. Regardless of the operations of Brazilian based companies, multinational corporations operating in Brazil continue to develop measures that enhance LGBT workplace equality.

Out & Equal invited local experts to discuss the current situation in Brazilian workplace as part of its Global Webinar Series. Out & Equal was joined by Adriana da Costa Ferreira from IBM, Ken Janssens from J.P. Morgan and Marcelo Oliveira, and Marcelo Wolczek Hörlle, from Dell. The discussion that started during the webinar will continue in Sao Pãulo at Out & Equal Global Forum in Fall 2016.

Almost 500 people have registered for the webinar, with 266 attending (with 157 attendees from Brazil), out of them, 80% represented companies from 22 countries. During the webinar participants were asked few questions that spotlight their engagement in Brazil.

Does your company implement a Diversity & Inclusion Strategy in Brazil?

A Global D&I strategy is in effect 47%
Yes, we have a local D&I strategy 23%
Yes, it also includes LGBT measures 30%
No, but we are thinking about it 4%
No 15%
I do not know 11%
Other (please chat in) 3%

Does your company have an active LGBT ERG in Brazil?

Yes 46%
We have LGBT ERG in LA region 11%
No, but we are thinking about it 9%
No 24%
I do not know 14%
Other (please chat in) 3%

Does your company offer equitable health and employee benefits that recognizes LGBT issues and families in Brazil?

Yes (please chat in) 45%
No 13%
I do not know 40%
Others (please chat in) 4%
Watch the full webinar here:

Questions & Answers

Does any of presented companies have any out Leaders in their Brazilian operations?

Adriana da Costa Ferreira: IBM does have some first line managers as out LGBT in Brazil.

Marcelo Hörlle:  Yes, Dell has. We have managers, directors and some other leaders which are out leaders.

Isn’t it mandatory to extend benefits to LGBT employees?

Adriana da Costa Ferreira, Marcelo Hörlle:  It is mandatory once the employee is legally married with his/her partner. LGBT people has the same benefits as non-LGBT that are married or have civil union formalized.

How does your company measures the inclusiveness of the environment? There are any kind of internal survey?

Adriana da Costa Ferreira:There are global surveys conducted by IBM Corporation that considers some aspects of inclusion. We do not measure the inclusiveness by an specific metrics; however we measure # of LGBT members and allies, year-by-year, per location, per Business Unit, their performance, talent pool

Marcelo Hörlle: There’s not a formal way to measure the inclusiveness of the environment. We use metrics like the number of allies of the diversity groups, people attending the events, showing their partnership to the group, etc. However, there’s no way to determine if all these people are LGBT. Despite that, Pride group ran a research once within the employees to gather their perspective regarding the openness and inclusiveness of the environment and of the company.

In your opinion, what is the most relevant factor to the Brazilian companies not to support LGBT initiatives/D&I?

Adriana da Costa Ferreira: I have heard many HR colleagues mentioning that they fear facing legal problems in respect of harassment cases or how to deal with religious discussions in face of the LGBT open environment. In addition, they do not know how to include transgender and again are afraid that they may be accused of discriminatory conduct for not doing the right thing.

Marcelo Hörlle:  In Brazil, there are no laws and neither public policies protecting the LGBT community. The problem is not related to Brazilian companies only, but also with international companies operating in Brazil. As we don’t have any kind of protection and the society by default is extremely chauvinist, companies might have fear of bringing to public their partnership with the cause, since they believe it might make them to lose business and business partners, which is not true. Also, Brazilian congress has its majority of participants being men and it’s strongly influenced by a portion of the members which call themselves as the evangelic front. Law projects that goes to the congress in regards to the LGBT community are not seen with good eyes by them, which articulate to get the projects denied, which helps to create a panorama that doesn’t help companies to play along with LGBT community for inclusion and awareness.