Lesbian Visibility Day – Employees Talk About Respect, Diversity and the Cultural Change Movement

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Lesbian Visibility Day – Employees Talk About Respect, Diversity and the Cultural Change Movement

Banner sobre Dia da visibilidade lésbica Banner sobre Dia da visibilidade lésbica

Brazil’s National Lesbian Visibility Day is celebrated on August 29 to honor lesbian women’s fight for equal rights and against violence. Vale supports this movement and respects and recognizes same-sex relationships. All people deserve this respect, which is enforced through Vale’s Human Rights Guide, policy and Code of Conduct.

Danúbia Silva, analista de controles Integrado
Danúbia Silva, integrated control analyst

Another initiative Vale launched in 2019 is the LGBTQIA + affinity group, which brings employees from Brazil together to “promote discussion, understanding and knowledge and exchange experiences for a more respectful, inclusive and pleasant work environment,” said Danúbia Silva, an integrated control analyst who has been with Vale for 19 years and joined the group last year. “Because I only discovered my sexuality after I was 30, I had to go through the process of deconstructing the paradigms and patterns that were deeply rooted in the context I was living in,” she added. “Affinity groups like the one we have create a space for free expression where minorities can bring up their issues and suggest measures to promote inclusion. This is a different way of looking at inclusion and driving cultural change within the company,” said the Minas Gerais-based analyst who works at the Vargem Grande complex, which has more than 90 employees in the affinity group. “In May of this year, we ramped up our initiatives to raise awareness about LGBTphobia.  In the Vargem Grande complex alone, we held two meetings to train the leadership, and the next step is to disseminate the message to more people in the operational area,” Danúbia concluded.

Pamella Almeida, técnica de Planejamento e Programação de Manutenção
Pamella Almeida, maintenance planning and programming technician

The Maintenance Planning and Programming technician Pamella Almeida has worked at Vale for 10 years and is the group’s representative in the North Corridor, which has more than 130 members from the states of Pará and Maranhão. “At the age of nine, I already knew my sexual orientation was different than my peers’. As if accepting my own sexuality wasn’t painful enough, I have to fight a daily battle when it comes to inclusion in society and the workplace,” she says. For Pamella, highlighting dates like this is very important: “Every day is lesbian visibility day, because every day we feel like we’re in a shop window for people to gawk at, give their opinions, turn up their noses, frown at or praise. This commemorative day represents our right to have a voice, to command respect for all women, and to show that a woman is not less of a woman simply because she loves another woman,” she concluded.

According to administrative analyst Marcela Silvestre, who has been with the company for 14 years, it is very important to have a way to discuss these issues and be a reference for other people who may be living in fear and seclusion. She believes the work that Vale is doing with the managers on this issue is extremely important. “I overheard my colleagues gossiping about my sexuality and it bothered me. One day, I called my manager and we went out for lunch—I needed to tell my story and I wanted her help to discuss this issue with the team. She was happy that I got her involved. We prepared something simple and direct and told everyone. It was a very special day. Everyone took it well, and what used to be a problem became a reason for pride and helped me integrate with my colleagues and relatives,” Marcela recalled.

Pamella Almeida, técnica de Planejamento e Programação de Manutenção
Marcela Silvestre, administrative analyst

“We are at the beginning of an arduous but beautiful journey towards diversity, which is a continuous struggle for respect, dignity and the right for lesbian women and all gay people to live a life free from both verbal and physical violence,” Pamella explained. “It is because of our differences that we evolve, grow and improve. All people living in society must practice empathy and respect. Changing the culture at our company means improving our work environment and making a positive impact on society,” Danúbia added.

Vale sees diversity not only as an ethical imperative but as something that adds great value to our work. Diverse people bring different experiences and outlooks, foster creativity in the workplace and contribute to innovation and changes in culture and behavior. The company is starting its journey towards a more diverse workforce. Some initiatives include the goal of doubling the number of female employees by 2030, encouraging recruitment of people with disabilities (PwD) and investing in affinity groups such as the LGBTQIA+ group.

Read the letter about LGBTQIA+ pride released by the Head of HR in Canada

She doesn’t look like one, but she is one...

Discrimination against lesbian women is a form of violence. It is so rooted in our society that people can often find it difficult to understand that certain words and approaches are disrespectful. Here are some lesbian women’s insights on extremely prejudiced approaches and statements you have probably heard before.

“If we stay together you will change your mind”

“You’re gay because you haven’t met the right man yet”

Sexual orientation is not a choice or an “idea”; it is something you are born with. These kinds of statements are rude and show that the person is ignorant about the issue.

“You’re too pretty to be a lesbian, what a waste”

A person’s sexual orientation does not make them less capable of enjoying life.

“I’m not homophobic, I’ve got gay friends”

Having a homosexual friend or relative does not necessarily mean you have no prejudice. The key issue here is to recognize that prejudice is a form of violence and curb it in day-to-day situations.

“Your wife is quite feminine”

In this case, the phrase shows that the person still thinks that in a relationship between lesbians, one must be butch and the other must be femme. It’s important to remember that same-sex relationships do not follow heterosexual patterns.

“But have you ever been married to a man?”

Yes, a person’s sexual orientation is not set in stone. They can change or discover something new about themselves.

“I respect it, just don't come near me.”

Feeling attracted to women does not mean being attracted to all women and certainly does not mean disrespecting someone else’s desire.

“But don't you want to have children?”

It is important to note that being a lesbian does not make a woman sterile; she can have children if she wants to.

“Let so-and-so carry this tool. Don't you want to be a man? You can take it.”

Lesbians don’t want to be men. When it comes to carrying tools, each person’s capacity must be respected.

“Why are you crying? Men don’t cry! Hahaha... just kidding!”

This joke is not funny. It is prejudiced and offensive.

“Is he gay or not? If he is, bring him over here. That will make two of you, adding a bit of color here.”

This may seem like a joke, but it is extremely disrespectful.

Diferença faz toda a diferença Diferença faz toda a diferença

Lesbian Visibility Day – Employees Talk About Respect, Diversity and the Cultural Change Movement