LEGAL & BUSINESS
Almost three years after the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, the world is the scene of profound changes in society. Some occurred in the so-called new job market, with consequences also observed for the Legal Departments and law firms. These transformations are not limited to the recent MP 1.108/2022, which regulated teleworking and changed the rules of food aid. Or important announcements such as the OAB-SP to integrate the “Race is Priority Movement”. This is a new configuration in relationships.
The fact is that never before have there been so many public manifestations by leaders and employees on topics related to inclusion and diversity (R&D), especially in discussions on the racial agenda. However, although the increase may be indicative of a timid awareness of the structural racism that is perpetuated in the Brazilian labor market, the legal market, in general, moves at a slow pace.
The Brazilian corporate environment has low racial and gender representation. The study “Trajectory of CEOs in Brazil” organized by the company Page Personnel in partnership with Fundação Dom Cabral, analyzed 149 CEOs from different sectors of the economy interviewed, where it was found that 90% were men and whites. That is, out of every 10 positions, only one is occupied by women or blacks (more specifically, 8% of the group was composed of women and only 9% of the researched group identified themselves as belonging to other ethnicities).
When we analyze the corporate and office legal market, there is a lack of data that empirically indicate the current reality. A survey carried out in 2019 by the Center for Studies on Labor Relations and Inequalities (CEERT) with nine law firms in São Paulo that made up the Legal Alliance for Rational Equity found that black professionals represented only 1% of lawyers in these large firms.
More recently, in a publication by Análise Editorial called “Análise Advocacia – Diversidade e Inclusão” in 2022, 386 law firms were analyzed. Of these, 257 responded to the specific questionnaire to deepen and detail programs and initiatives related to diversity, equity and inclusion. To the data:
about 20% said they preferred black professionals;
only 5% had an exclusive selection process for these professionals;
11% of these offices did not have any black professionals.
When we look for black professionals in executive positions in companies and offices, this already terrifying number gets even worse. Considering that 54% of the Brazilian population declares itself as black (blacks and browns) and that the participation of these professionals in the legal world is minimal, how then to promote the real inclusion of these professionals in Legal Departments of companies and offices?
It would be naive for the author to consider that the absence of public policies that promote equity and inclusion of black people in society and in the legal market can be solved in just one reading. However, recognizing that it is indeed a structural problem can be considered an important first step. The low number of black professionals in the legal market is directly related to socioeconomic inequality and its impact on the training of professionals.
The bottleneck, as some may understand, does not just start with academic training.
It starts with the construction that the figure of the legal professional, be it lawyer, prosecutor, judge or any of our careers, belongs and exclusive to the white man. These are facts supported by data – not a matter of opinion. The lack of ethnic-racial representation is fixed in the collective imagination, largely attributed to the lack of references that relate black people to the legal field.
This scenario continues in terms of access to quality education, where the black population is in less favored socioeconomic conditions and has greater difficulty in accessing quality basic, elementary and secondary education, when compared to other social groups. With lags in its teaching-learning process, there is a direct impact on the access of black people to good universities and law schools.
Finally, when there is access to law courses, black people find unprepared environments, with little or no racial awareness. In general, the curricular components do not reflect the Brazilian social reality – and the legal market as a whole – creating a sense of lack of encouragement and acceptance, which consequently leads to evasion.