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SAO LEOPOLDO wall by SEBA CENER

Polishing diamonds

Henrique Santos

Support Consultant

Henrique never got used to being the only black man wherever he went. Born in Novo Hamburgo, a city founded by German immigrants in southern Brazil, he always lived in a central neighborhood. There were very few black people there – but on the city outskirts, there were many. This bothered him for a while and it got worse when he started university.

I have lots of black friends but I didn"t see them there, and I started to wonder why.

According to the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics, in 2015, 12.8% of black youths aged 18-24 began their higher education, while the percentage among white people was 25.6%. It must be noted that per the 2010 census, 50.7% of Brazilians define themselves as black or mixed race compared with 47.7% whites.

When he joined the labor market, he noticed the exact same thing. Black men and women were doing maintenance, but they did not occupy any management positions. “That doesn"t make sense. The quality of services and life includes diversity,” he said. That is why Henrique started leading an employee network group in Brazil whose focus is to bring the country’s ethnic diversity into the company.

We want to show the value of different ethnic groups in the labor market, but also to prove to young people that it is possible to work for a multinational.

The opportunity to get to know other cultures was also fundamental for Henrique to understand the importance of diversity. In the late 90s, his father received a job offer in China that he couldn’t decline. The entire family moved there, and Henrique spent seven years in this new setting before returning to Brazil.

My group of friends was so multicultural: They were from Colombia, Korea, Portugal, Taiwan, and other countries. I was always interested in getting to know people who were different.

Currently, his father, Laudino, his mother, Giani, and his younger sister, Karen, still live in China. His other sister, Gabriela, lives in the United States, and Henrique lives in Brazil with his wife, Raquel.

Always in search of new experiences, at the age of 20, Henrique traveled to Boston as a missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to preach the gospel, visit believers, and do different types of volunteer work. Today, at 27, he studies business administration through the Birmingham University distance learning system and works with Customer Support at SAP, putting into practice his passion for interacting with diverse people.

He joined SAP as an intern and, a year later, became a full-time employee. “Youths can do anything. I talked with lots of people to get guidance on how to improve and become a better version of myself. I want others my age or younger to know that it is possible to get a rough diamond to polish and show how precious it can be. I always enjoyed doing that and I want to do it again with the network,” he said, with the joy of someone who is following his true calling and working with purpose.

Address of graffiti wall: 744, Unisinos Ave, Sao Joao Batista | Sao Leopoldo, Brazil