April 4, 2022

A Brazilian Firm Tried To Hire Just Black And Indigenous Workers To Increase Diversity But Linkedin Deleted Its Job Advert

Brazilian companies have started to explicitly seek out Black and Indigenous workers to diversify their ranks, a step to reverse the deep inequality that has racked the country since the area was first settled centuries ago.

The country is LinkedIn’s third-largest market, after the United States and India, with 55 million users, or one in every four people in Brazil. So naturally, employers would advertise jobs there.

But in February, a think tank in São Paulo was looking for a financial coordinator that would be willing to take on the remote position. Its post on LinkedIn said Black and Indigenous candidates were preferred.

Three days later, on February 28, LinkedIn removed the ad and said the post had breached its violations.

The case was the latest illustration of how US-based tech companies exert huge influence in foreign countries, enforcing global policies that often clash with other countries’ cultures.

The move by the firm, which is headquartered in California, USA set off a debate leading to dozens of large companies protesting, federal prosecutors, and the opening of inquiries.

This is a big deal because Brazil lacks serious diversity – especially in tech and has a brutal history of racism. In Brazil, more than half the country’s workforce identifies as Black or mixed race in Brazil, yet less than 30% of these workers occupy managerial roles.

Beyond the scarcity of Black professionals in IT departments in Brazil, a study by diversity initiative Preta Lab in partnership with consulting firm ThoughtWorks in 2020 found that 50.4% of teams do not have “non-heterosexual” staff.

The inclusion of indigenous people and people with disabilities is also nearly absent in Brazil: 85.4% of the participants reported no disabled people in their team, and in 95.9%, there were no indigenous people at all.

So companies were trying to do better by explicitly encouraging diverse groups to apply but they were blocked.

In Brazil, several recent court decisions have upheld affirmative action policies, making the law more clear that companies can give preference to Black and Indigenous employees, said Elisiane Santos, a prosecutor in the federal labor prosecutor’s office. “It certainly is legal,” she told the New York Times.

Linkedin has since updated the policy to allow job listings that explicitly pursue candidates who are “members of groups historically disadvantaged in hiring.”

After the NYT sought comment on its removal of the job listings, LinkedIn said it was changing its policy to allow such ads, as long as they are legal in a given country. “Getting this right is important and we’re committed to continuing to learn and improve,” the company said in a statement.

It reportedly declined to comment further.

Abbianca Makoni

Abbianca Makoni is a content executive and writer at POCIT! She has years of experience reporting on critical issues affecting diverse communities around the globe.