*By Hubber Clemente (Creator of the initiative Negros e Pretos Afro Turismo Afro Hotelaria, Co-founder of Papo de Hoteleiro and participant in D&I initiatives)
When we talk about prejudice, we need to understand that it doesn’t happen by chance. Our society was structured to be as it is for many centuries and only recently, in the middle of the last century, we began to take more effective actions to combat prejudice and exclusion. But even in many more traditional and conservative sectors, there is a lot of resistance and omission to these actions, as in Brazilian tourism.
There is a revisionist and illusory narrative that national tourism is diverse and inclusive, but they actually see it this way because the sector is a portrait of our structurally prejudiced society, with only a specific profile at the top and “diversity” at the bottom. To simplify understanding when I say that Brazilian tourism is structurally prejudiced, you just need to reflect and answer a few questions: what is the profile of the people who are in the leadership of the main associations and professional entities in the sector? How many black people with afro braids or dreads have seen you in traditional hotels? How many PCD people have you seen working in front of hotels or restaurants? How many transsexual people have you worked with? By answering the questions, you will understand what I am saying.
And how to change this situation? First, abandoning denial and omission in relation to the topic. Prejudice is like a virus, it needs a favorable environment to survive, get stronger and even produce variants, as we learned in the pandemic. A revisionist and neglectful environment is allied to prejudice. And know that just “official notes” saying against prejudice is practically assuming that you support it. Prejudice is fought with reflection, awareness and, above all, action. If you don’t have effective actions, it won’t happen organically. In fact, it will attract a prejudiced audience that is being fought against in many other sectors of society.
It is not easy, but it is entirely possible for any sector or company to be diverse and inclusive. Start by hiring specialized consultants, preferably those who know the sector, to identify where the greatest diversity and inclusion deficit lies. Structure a solid action plan for the medium and long term, with continuous actions throughout the year, with the necessary analyzes and adjustments for its efficiency. And be careful not to fall into the “trap” of superficial actions, which can backfire on your company. It is also important to emphasize that diversity and inclusion are different themes. I’m going to replicate a famous quote from Verna Myers, one of the world’s leading experts on diversity and corporate inclusion: Diversity is inviting you to the ball, inclusion is calling you to dance.”
To think about and apply these actions, there is no lack of good examples in other sectors to inspire and mirror. Several companies over the past two years have noticed that there are no black leaders in senior positions and have launched exclusive trainee programs for black people. Others, thinking about having more women in leadership positions, opened selective processes in directorships exclusively for women, with due salary equity. Others created safe spaces for LGBTQIA+ to participate in selective processes, restraining through awareness, training and punishments to toxic environments. Others recruit transsexual people, with all inclusive structure so that they can have peace of mind and support to exercise their professional functions. And all this is possible to be applied as soon as possible, just have the will and availability.
The near future will be diverse and inclusive, despite the resistance there will be less and less room for permissive environments, neglectful of prejudice. So that Brazilian tourism does not remain in the past, professional entities, associations and industry leaders urgently need to act, because, in all sectors of society, DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION ARE URGENT MATTERS.
The opinions expressed in this text are the author’s opinion and do not necessarily reflect the position of WTM Latin America.