In November, a month marked by Black Awareness Day, among the various topics discussed, much is said about the fragility of corporations when it comes to racial diversity. In addition to pointing to structural racism, known to be rooted in Brazilian economic and power structures, there is also an effort to understand the reality of black people around the country, who make up the majority of the population, and to think of ways to include them in a more assertive and positive way in the job market.
It is known, for example, that English is the world language of business, culture and science – and the most widely spoken language in the world – and it is increasingly becoming a determining criterion for any hiring. Thus, it can be inferred that, once the access to the language is democratized, the greater the chances of insertion and permanence of black people in these spaces.
According to the United Nations (UN), the black population is the most affected by inequality and violence in Brazil. In the job market, blacks and browns face more difficulties in career progression, in equal pay and are more vulnerable to moral harassment. Still, according to the Atlas of Violence (2017), the black population also corresponds to the majority (78.9%) of the one in ten individuals most likely to be victims of homicides.
The economic crisis also hit the black Brazilian population more strongly: they are 63.7% of the unemployed, which corresponds to 8.3 million people. As a result, the unemployment rate for blacks and browns was 14.6% – among white workers, the rate is lower: 9.9%. The data are from the National Continuous Household Sample Survey (Continuous PNAD), released by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE).
Furthermore, in the third quarter of 2017, the average income of black workers was lower than that of whites: 1.5 thousand compared to 2.7 thousand reais. Also according to the IBGE, more than half of the Brazilian population (54%) is black or brown, with every ten people, three are black women. Therefore, it becomes increasingly urgent to provide tools for the professional development of Afro-Brazilian youth. To this end, it is pertinent to assume that learning in English may represent a competitive differential in the search for better professional opportunities, as well as access to study opportunities abroad.
Most of the Brazilian population defines themselves as black or brown, however they are far from being the majority in the highly qualified labor market, also because many do not have access to the required educational background. The movements in search of greater representation for ethnic minorities in Brazil have been achieving achievements in various fields of society, however, the effort to guarantee the right to quality education for all is still necessary and relevant. The low presence of qualified black professionals reflects the unequal access to formal education and the history of racial discrimination inherent in Brazilian society, which implies that the black population (mainly women) has lower living conditions than the white population with regard to almost all social rights: education, health, work, housing, among others.
In view of this need for complementary training for the black population as a way of making them more competitive, it is worth mentioning that, according to the 52nd Salary Survey, conducted by Catho, the salary of a person who is fluent in a second language is up to 61% higher than the salary of a monolingual. Another relevant data is related to the E2C project (English to Connect, Communicate, Catalyze), carried out by the US Consulate General in SP and by the + Unidos Group. The project is based on the training of young black men and women in the English language and, after the completion of the first class in 2019, it was identified that 50% of the students got a job or were promoted. In all cases, the students claimed that English had an influence on this.
In order to overcome structural inequalities and value the ethnic diversity of Brazil, it is necessary to go further, both in improving public policies on all fronts and in strengthening civil society initiatives. Finally, only when black women and men can exercise the basic right to participate in political, social and economic decisions, that is, the right to participate in a dignified and unconditional way in public or private institutions, will there be conditions to affirm that we live in a diverse and genuinely democratic society.
+ Unidos Group