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.
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.
At SAP, we have several Employee Network Groups focused on race and ethnicity around the globe. In Brazil, the group is called “Ethnicities@SAP” and focuses on reflecting the demographic distribution of the country within SAP’s workforce. Currently in Brazil, more than 54% of the people self-identity as non-whites, but the corporate environment is far from reflecting this reality.
SAP put a partnership in place with Brazilian institution Faculdade Zumbi dos Palmares where the company offers some internship positions to students so that they consider SAP as a potential employer.
Besides having strong policies and procedures against discrimination, increasing awareness is crucial to develop a sustainable diverse and inclusive environment. Our official Diversity & Inclusion Learning Program, promoted throughout the year, is available to all employees worldwide and includes content on Unconscious Bias and Racial Diversity.
Check some pictures from activities driven to increase awareness in our offices:
In this way, Henrique wants to give people the support and opportunities he received from his family, knowing that not everyone has that privilege. His grandparents, who were recognized for their good work as shoemakers, inspired him with both word and action. His mother and aunt set an example by studying, and starting university as adults.
My parents always told me and my sisters that we were capable of anything, and that we could make a difference.
They had to make many sacrifices for their kids to study.
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.
his passion for interacting with diverse people
SAP – a place where Diversity & Inclusion are part of the corporate culture.
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