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Citizenship in business organizations: reflections about the respect for diversity1 1 Revised version of the text titled “Equality and human rights in business organizations and citizenship” published in the book “Communication, diversity and organizations: thought and action”, organized by Else Lemos e Patricia Salvatori (São Paulo, Editora Abrabcorp, 2019. p. 25-45).

Abstract

This article discusses social discrimination in organizations. The objective is to reflect on the concepts that support the understanding of the relationship between human rights and citizenship to better comprehend the issue of respect for diversity in organizations as something more complex than the opportunism to increase profitability. It is based on bibliographical and documentary research as a preliminary approach, therefore without the pretension of exhausting the problematic. It concludes that citizenship can be better understood if regarded in the perspective of the double intersection between civil rights and civic rights. Civic rights refer to a universal sense of the rights of the person, of a people and of the human species itself.

Keywords
Citizenship; Business Organizations; Discrimination; Iguality

Resumo

Este texto discute a discriminação social nas organizações. O objetivo é refletir sobre conceitos que embasam a compreensão da relação entre direitos humanos e de cidadania para melhor entender a questão do respeito à diversidade nas organizações como algo mais complexo do que o oportunismo para aumentar a lucratividade. Baseia-se em pesquisa bibliográfica e documental numa abordagem preliminar, portanto, sem a pretensão de esgotar a problemática. Conclui-se que a cidadania pode ser mais bem compreendida se tomada na perspectiva da dupla intersecção entre os direitos civis e os direitos cívicos. Os direitos cívicos remetem a um sentido universalizante dos direitos da pessoa, de um povo e da própria espécie humana.

Palavras-chave
Cidadania; Organizações empresariais; Discriminação; Igualdade

Resumen

Este texto discute la discriminación social en las organizaciones. El objetivo es reflexionar sobre los conceptos que ayudan la comprensión de la relación entre derechos humanos y de ciudadanía para mejor entender la cuestión de lo respecto a l diversidad em las organizaciones como algo más complejo do que el oportunismo para aumentar la lucratividad. El estudio es basado en investigación bibliográfica y documental en abordaje preliminar, por lo tanto, si la pretensión de agotar la problemática. La conclusión es que la ciudadanía pode ser más bien comprendida si tomada en la perspectiva de la doble intersección entre los derechos civiles y los derechos cívicos. Lo derechos cívicos remiten a uno sentido universalizante de los derechos de la persona, derechos de una nación y de la propia especie humana.

Palabras clabe
Ciudadanía; Discriminación; Organizaciones empresariales; Igualdad

Introduction

This text discusses the theme of human discrimination in organizations, with regards to the equitable non-absorption of women, black people and disabled people’s labour, besides reflecting about the limitation of businesses policies said inclusive when seen from the competitive advantage angle. The approach is woven in four topics: brief words about citizenship, the relation between human rights and citizenship rights, the discourse of the organizations about diversity, and visions of diversity and meritocracy.

Points are made with the intent of provoking reflections from the professionals, especially public relations and organizational communication professionals, when approaching the programmatic strategies of the professional practice, being them directly in the industrial and services market or in the teaching of graduation and post-graduation in the Social Communication field. The objective is to reflect about the relation between human rights and citizenship to better understand the question about the respect to diversity in the organizations as something more complex than the opportunism to increase profitability. It is based in bibliographic and documental research with a preliminary essayistic approach, therefore, with no intention of exhausting the problematic.

Words about citizenship

Citizenship is a word that carries a density of concepts, although being used almost as a word of order in the discourses about social and political participation in the democratic societies. In the face of the limit of space to deepen the concepts and its historical evolution (PINSKY; BASSANEZI PINSKY, 2003PINSKY, J. Introdução. In: PINSKY, J.; BASSANEZI PINSKY, C. História da cidadania. São Paulo: Contexto, 2003. p. 9-13., BOBBIO, 1991BOBBIO, N. A era dos direitos. 4a. reimp. Rio de Janeiro: Campus, 1992., KROHLING, 2009KROHLING, A. Diretos humanos fundamentais. Diálogo intercultural e democracia. São Paulo: Paulus, 2009.), it is opted to situate some of its key ideas as a form of contextualising the theme. Amongst them are the principles equality and freedom. They are fundamental principles universally accepted as a base of citizenship and secured by The Brazilian Constitution of 1988, which, in its 5th article, specifies: “All are equal before the law, with no distinction of any nature, guaranteeing to the Brazilian people and its foreign residents the inviolability to the right to life, to freedom, to equality, to security and to property” (CONSTITUIÇÃO, 2016CONSTITUIÇÃO DA REPUBLICA FEDERATIVA DO BRASIL, Brasília: Senado Federal, 2016., p. 13).

To be a citizen is to be able to exercise and enjoy these principles as rights. In the words of Pinsky (2003, p. 9)PINSKY, J. Introdução. In: PINSKY, J.; BASSANEZI PINSKY, C. História da cidadania. São Paulo: Contexto, 2003. p. 9-13.,

to be a Citizen is to have the right to life, freedom, property and equality before the law: it is, in sum, to have civil rights. It is also to participate of society’s destiny, to vote, to be voted, to have political rights. Civil and political rights do not ensure democracy without social rights, those which guarantee the participation of the individuals in the collective wealth.: the right to education, to work, to a fair salary, to health, to ageing peacefully. To exercise plain citizenship is to have civil, politic and social rights.

This way, to be a citizen is to have the right to participate as an active subject of the making of society and to be able to share the benefits of the historical development, to use the wealth socially generated, including the respect of the values consecrated to the human dignity, with equality and freedom, therefore, independent of social class, genre condition, ethnicity, physical characteristics, origin and so on. Citizenship also refers to participation.

In the concrete Brazilian reality, inequality is stark in all dimensions. And freedom is curtailed in different ways. Poor people, black people, indigenous, women, homosexuals, people from the Northeast, etc. are discriminated, despite the existence of protective laws.

In this environment, appear the social fights to increase the social and juridical recognition of rights. Why? Because human rights precede legal rights – or citizenship rights, that is, the human rights recognized by the State. Human rights are inherent to the person. They are universal and historical and extrapolate the limits of a nation. For instance, the right to live with dignity, the right to life or the right to work, independent of skin colour, origin, weight, age... In the historical evolution of citizenship recognition, the notion of rights become more expressive when appears the clarity from the individuals that it is a right to have your rights respected, in other words, the right to have rights. Therefore, other important notion of citizenship is its historicity. If its conceptions are altered, the quality of citizenship is altered.

Historically, the State takes long to recognize rights and only does facing society’s pressure. The history of citizenship in the Western World (PINSKY; BASSANEZI PINSKY, 2003PINSKY, J. Introdução. In: PINSKY, J.; BASSANEZI PINSKY, C. História da cidadania. São Paulo: Contexto, 2003. p. 9-13., BOBBIO, 1992BOBBIO, N. A era dos direitos. 4a. reimp. Rio de Janeiro: Campus, 1992., KROHLING, 2009KROHLING, A. Diretos humanos fundamentais. Diálogo intercultural e democracia. São Paulo: Paulus, 2009.) shows that the fights for recognition and amplification of its status – or the quality of citizenship – are old and the achievements are slow.

The history of Citizen rights development, the evolution of citizenship in Centre-Western Europe, has been running for at least three centuries – from fierce social conflicts – related to the conquering of three basic rights contents, diverse among themselves: and the social rights, in the 20th century

(MONDAINI, 2003MONDAINI, M. O respeito aos direitos dos indivíduos. In: PINSKY, J.; BASSANEZI PINSKY, C. História da cidadania. São Paulo: Contexto, 2003. p. 115-133., p. 116).

Riots, mutinies, political clashes, strikes, lockouts (employer’s strike), coercion and repression mark the whole history of fights for social rights and for public politics that guarantee them, because, in societies marked by antagonisms and the supremacy of some above others, the equalitarian rights only exist if they are conquered. Therefore, the social fights are the ones that push forward the notions of rights in the view of the State and of the citizens.

In Brazil, women’s right to vote was only recognized in 1932, and for illiterate people only in the Constitution of 1988. The right to strike was only won in 1978 (SINGER, 2003SINGER, P. A cidadania para todos. In: PINSKY, J.; BASSANEZI PINSKY, C. História da cidadania. São Paulo: Contexto, 2003. p. 191-263.). The rights to a home and to equality, amongst others, are still being denied to big parts of the Brazilian population.

Citizenship has two faces, as it involves not only rights but also duties. This is the reason it can be also comprehended from two points: civil and civic. The civil (VIEIRA, 2000VIEIRA, L. Cidadania e globalização. 4. ed. Rio de Janeiro: Record, 2000.) corresponds to the sphere of the individual rights (to vote or to be voted, to move about, to freedom of expression, to access to public services etc.), under the guarantee of the State, besides the individual responsibility for their own acts, family care and the expression of revindications. The civic withholds the citizens’ duties with the State, as a guardian of the public goods, in other terms, of the macro interests of the community.

Still according to Vieira (2000)VIEIRA, L. Cidadania e globalização. 4. ed. Rio de Janeiro: Record, 2000., in Richard Morse the civic tradition is a lot different from the civil tradition of modernity, with the State guaranteeing the individual rights of the person.

Civic tradition is seen more from the State point of view than from the citizen. (...) The contemporary attitude that seems to prevail is the search of a strategy to combine the civil – individual rights – and the civic – rights to the State, responsible for the public goods

(VIEIRA, 2000VIEIRA, L. Cidadania e globalização. 4. ed. Rio de Janeiro: Record, 2000., p. 25).

In addition, it is clear that the civic dimension leads to responsibilities, and it refers to obligation, which means the duties of all citizens, of governments and of the public and private institutions, to the respect of the collective interest and to the maximum values of a society, the civil order. In last instance, civility is expressed when you overcome the individual conscience in favour of the collective interest, as a social solidarity and responsibilities for the public goods.

This heightened sense according to Vieira (2000, p. 27)VIEIRA, L. Cidadania e globalização. 4. ed. Rio de Janeiro: Record, 2000., of civility, is close to what Montesquieu

called virtue: love to the Republic and Democracy. Civility, in sum, is the conduct of a person whose individual self-conscience is partially overdetermined by the collective conscience, being the referred from this last society as a whole and the institutions of civil society2 2 Civil Society “is here conceived not only as a Market, but as a space beyond Family and local and besides the State, still meaning being polite to friends and tolerating the enemies” (SHILLS apud. VIEIRA, 2000, p. 27). .

The limitations of the respect to diversity in organizations

The elements of citizenship shown above help to think about the role of the organizations, like, for example, the traditional mediatic industries and websites of digital social media which prioritize business and harm cultural values favourable to social equity and the educational formation of civility. When prioritizing the interest of the capital, in the logic of the capitalist way of production, they incentive individualism, hedonism, competition and consumerism. Also, all the other companies when moving according to the market’s interest, limitless to profit, behave the same way violating the collective interests of society where they extract their riches from, for example, when circumventing working rights, discriminating workers due to their ethnic- racial and social conditions, adopting depredatory postures of the environment. The fact that this logic is inherent to capitalism does not exempts companies of the social responsibility, in special, in the “era of rights” (BOBBIO, 1992BOBBIO, N. A era dos direitos. 4a. reimp. Rio de Janeiro: Campus, 1992.) experimented in contemporaneity.

The era of rights that Bobbio (1992)BOBBIO, N. A era dos direitos. 4a. reimp. Rio de Janeiro: Campus, 1992. talks about includes the recognition of rights not only in the individual level, but also collective. This way, all types of prejudice and discrimination are against the rights, not only the individual ones, but also of the human groups, being those the poor, people from the Northeast, women, black people, disabled people and so on. In practice, not always these rights are respected. In the broad corporative context, there still are traditional values that do not always befit the historic advances (BOBBIO, 1992BOBBIO, N. A era dos direitos. 4a. reimp. Rio de Janeiro: Campus, 1992., VIEIRA, 2000VIEIRA, L. Cidadania e globalização. 4. ed. Rio de Janeiro: Record, 2000.) in the conceptions of citizenship. To Cortina (2005, p. 18)CORTINA, A. Cidadãos do mundo: para uma teoria da cidadania. São Paulo: Loyola, 2005., referring to Bell3 3 Bell (1977). , “the economic and political system are [...] depending of a cultural revolution that assures civility, the availability of the citizens to commit with the public issue”.

One of the dimensions of this new era of rights says about the affirmation of identities and of diversity. The United Nations Organizations for Education, Science and Culture (UNESCO) has been dedicating themselves to this theme for decades. In 1978, it was published in the UNESCO declaration about Race and Racial Prejudice (DECLARAÇÃO DA UNESCO ..., 1978DECLARAÇÃO UNIVERSAL DOS DIREITOS HUMANOS (1948). Brasília: Representação da Unesco no Brasil, 1998.), in which the 3rd article establishes that

it is incompatible with our demands of a fair international order that guarantees the respect to the human rights all distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, ethnical or national origin, or religious tolerance motivated by racist considerations [...], that limits in an arbitrary or discriminatory manner the right to a full development of all beings and human groups; this right implies a plain equal access to the means of progress of collective and individual realization [...].

In 2002, UNESCO released the Universal Declaration of Cultural Diversity when reaffirming their commitment with the full compliance of human rights and of basic freedom proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, of 1984, addendum of cultural diversity, that reinforces the conceptions of citizenship rights. The 4th article says:

The defence of cultural diversity is an ethical imperative, inseparable from the respect for dignity of the human person. Implies the commitment to respect the human rights and basic freedom, in particular the rights of people who belong to minorities and the native people. No one can summon cultural diversity up to violate the human rights guaranteed by the international right, not even to limit its reach

(DECLARAÇÃO UNIVERSAL..., 2002DECLARAÇÃO UNIVERSAL SOBRE A DIVERSIDADE CULTURAL. UNESCO, 2002. Disponível em: www.unesco.org/.../CLT/diversity/pdf/declaration_cultural_diversit... Acesso em: 25 jan. 2021.
www.unesco.org/.../CLT/diversity/pdf/dec...
).

Therefore, if it can be inferred that diversity is neither a word of order, nor a word that is just a fad. It refers to the rights of people, refers to equality between peoples and between human beings in all senses. Equality between man and woman, between white and black, disabled and not disabled people, differences between heterosexual and LGBTI4 4 Lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans gender e intersexual. people, of age, education, religion, appearance, weight, origin and so on.

A research made by Ethos Institute for Companies and Social Responsibility and by Interamerican Development Bank (BID) about the “Social, racial and genre profile of the 500 biggest companies of Brazil and their affirmative actions” shows amongst their results the following:

  • Only 2% of the employees of the biggest Brazilian companies are people with disability (the minimum demanded by law 8.213/1991) in their staff. Men are majority with a 59.9% proportion and women with a participation of 40.1%;

  • Women represent 58.9% of the interns, 42.6% of trainees and 55.9% of apprentices, but only occupy 13.6% of executive positions, 31.3% of management positions, and 38.8% supervision. Of the Counselling Administration positions only 11% are women;

  • Women earn 70% of the salary earned by men;

  • There is no executive of indigenous origins in any of the studied companies;

  • 94.2% of the executive, 90.1% of the management and 72.2% of the supervision positions belong to white people, while only 4.7% of black people occupy executive positions, 6.3% of management and 25.9% of supervision (INSTITUTO ETHOS, 2016INSTITUTO ETHOS. Perfil social, racial e de gênero das 500 maiores empresas do Brasil e suas ações afirmativas. São Paulo: Instituto Ethos e Banco Interamericano de Desenvolvimento (BID), maio de 2016. Disponível em: https://issuu.com/institutoethos/docs/perfil_social_tacial_genero_500empr. Acesso em: 16 maio 2018.
    https://issuu.com/institutoethos/docs/pe...
    ).

This data is expressive in the relevance of the existence of discrimination in the corporative world of social segments that historically suffer prejudice in Brazil. How to explain, from the research’s data, that black people are in such an imbalance related to white people on the exercise of leadership? How to explain that women earn less than men for the same work? Possibly the reproduction of prejudicial values that rub cultures and society helps understanding this phenomenon, however, its non-legitimacy is a matter of time5 5 It is recommended to watch the video “equality Men-Women at work”, that shows genre inequality from the eyes of young children and preteenagers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VbIc4GDpIkQ .

In the analytical part of the research (INSTITUTO ETHOS, 2016INSTITUTO ETHOS. Perfil social, racial e de gênero das 500 maiores empresas do Brasil e suas ações afirmativas. São Paulo: Instituto Ethos e Banco Interamericano de Desenvolvimento (BID), maio de 2016. Disponível em: https://issuu.com/institutoethos/docs/perfil_social_tacial_genero_500empr. Acesso em: 16 maio 2018.
https://issuu.com/institutoethos/docs/pe...
, p. 15), it is mentioned the inclusion of black people:

black people, who are 52.9% of the population of the country, are, like women, in a situation of inequality, under representation and hierarchic funnelling. The exclusion is, however, more pronounced. The majority within apprentices and trainees, with a proportion of 57.5% and 58.2%, black people have their participation reduced to 6.3% in management and 4.7% on the executive board.

About women,

with a majority of 51.4% of the Brazilian population, they are underrepresented in this group and, apart from the inequality related to men, they face a hierarchical funnelling that excludes them, on a bigger proportion, from higher positions in the hierarchical scale, as it has been observed in previous research

(INSTITUTO ETHOS, 2016INSTITUTO ETHOS. Perfil social, racial e de gênero das 500 maiores empresas do Brasil e suas ações afirmativas. São Paulo: Instituto Ethos e Banco Interamericano de Desenvolvimento (BID), maio de 2016. Disponível em: https://issuu.com/institutoethos/docs/perfil_social_tacial_genero_500empr. Acesso em: 16 maio 2018.
https://issuu.com/institutoethos/docs/pe...
, p. 15).

On the Other hand, discrimination is not manifested only in the institutional level, but also amongst work colleagues, whose prejudice towards women, black people, LGBTIs, disabled people, besides factors like age, education, religion, weight and appearance, hinder the internal relations in a company. Therefore, the cultural factor is a regulator to be equated in the company’s inclusion programs.

The changes of view and company practices occur because of social pressure. Therefore, civil society is mobilized, and the social movements are one of the ways of organization which propel society to advance regarding the rights of people and the environment. The examples can be identified in the union movements, ecological movements, women’s, black people, indigenous, immigrants and LGBTIs, amongst others. Together, Brazil has advanced in the promulgation of laws of civil protection, in line with the Federal Constitution, as the law that demands the hiring of people with disabilities – Law nº 8.213/19916 6 The Law 8.213/1991 establishes minimal percentage for the hiring of employees with a physical disability: in companies with 100 or more employees, it is demanded the fulfilling of 2% to 5% of their positions rehabilitated people or disabled people, habilitated in this proportion: up to 200 employees, 2%, from 201 to 500, 3%, from 501 to 1000, 4% and from 1000 or more, 5%. However, according to a research made (ETHOS INSTITUTE, 2016), most of the companies only comply only with the minimal percentual required, and, as far as it is known, it is to avoid judicial complications. ; the Elder Statute - Law no 10.741/03, from the 1st October 2003, that regulates and assures the rights of people who are 50 years old or older7 7 Available at:https://presrepublica.jusbrasil.com.br/legislacao/98301/estatuto-do-idoso-lei-10741-03 . Accessed on: 9 Jul. 2018 ; Children and Adolescents Statute – Law no 8.069, of 13th of July 1990, that talks about children and adolescents full protection8 8 Available at: https://presrepublica.jusbrasil.com.br/.../estatuto-da-crianca-e-do-adolescente-lei-8069. Accessed on: 9 Jul.2018. ; and the Maria da Penha Law – Law nº 11.340, of 7th August 2006, that institutes mechanisms to restrain domestic and family violence against women9 9 Available at: http://www.planalto.gov.br/ccivil_03/_ato2004-2006/2006/lei/l11340.htm. Accessed on: 9 July 2018. .

These are important laws which regulates and institute rights of segments vulnerable to society, the bare minimum to change discriminatory practices, being those in the working environment as well as in the environment of family relations and in the scope of society, being sexist, homophobic, racist, fatphobic or any other nature. To transform the culture of people and institutions is a slow process, laws help the country to advance, and, if respect is not applied by the force that human rights have, laws are welcomed to punish the actors of violence of any kind.

Besides the notions of rights already pointed out, it is convenient to add the demand for respect to worker’s culture and of the people who live in the area where these companies were installed. These cultural violations are common when the implantation of companies in strategic areas, without considering the real conditions relating to the preservation of the environment and the demands of the local population, as an example the construction of hydroelectric dams, like the one in Belo Monte10 10 Available at: https://www.cpalsocial.org/documentos/393.pdf e https://pt.mongabay.com/2017/02/brasil-desprovido-barragem-belo-monte-devastadora-as-culturas-indigenas/. Accessed on: 9 July 2018. in the Brazilian Amazon Forest. Other focus of the violation of the interests and local conditions occur when there is the internationalization of companies, as the tendency is to “invade” the place through the imposition of rules, values and knowledge (architectonic design of constructions) elaborated in the headquarters of the corporation everywhere it starts to operate. In the mining field, Vale in Mozambique is an example. Criticism points to damage to the environment and precarious life conditions of families in a megaproject that promised development. It got to the point where the company removed families dedicated to the agricultural production of land that runs coal mines, moving them to a land unsuitable to agriculture11 11 Available at: http://br.rfi.fr/africa/20160124-mina-da-vale-em-mocambique-e-criticada-ha-quase-cinco-anos. Accessed on: 9 July 2018. , within other aspects. This same company has just shown, in Brazil, more specifically in Brumadinho, Minas Gerais, their extreme lack of social, human, environmental and ethical responsibility for the risky conditions which they keep their mining operations. The contrast between their institutional discourse and practice is evident to the world by the power of reality. The destruction of the environment and of hundreds of lives, besides animal life, is a proof that puts in check any communicational argument that camouflages what happens in practice. From the Public Relation point of view before saying that you protect the environment you have, in fact, to protect it.

A discourse of organizations about diversity

In a similar process occurs the treatment of the question of diversity in organizations. It is not rare that there are only traces of respect to diversity, be that genre, ethnics or physical condition, to obey legal demands, and/or to update the narrative, but, in fact, the respect to differences, in a condition of equality, is still not incorporated as an effective policy and as part of the organizational culture in Brazil, with rare exceptions.

Signs of incorporation of politics of diversity in companies date back to mid-20th Century, in the United States, with two important milestones. In 1941, the president Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Executive Order 8.802, vetoing racial discrimination in the Military Forces, therefore, forbidding discrimination at work. In 1955, the anti- segregating fight gains strength with the dressmaker Rosa Parks, who refused to give a seat in a bus to a white man. In the 1960s, Martin Luther King leads the march on Washington (in 1963), of about 150 thousand people. In this same decade, grow the revindications for work rights, for the end of discrimination and for the recognition to right to vote of black people. The inclusion of women to the group of beneficiaries of affirmative actions is officialised in 1965, by President Lyndon B. Johnson through Executive Order 11.246 (SALES, 2018SALES, R. G. de. Diversidade nas organizações: das lutas sociais às políticas públicas. In: CONGRESSO ABRAPCORP, XII, Goiânia (GO), Abrapcorp e Faculdade de Informação e Comunicação da Universidade Federal de Goiás, 16 a 18 de maio de 2018. Anais....). Similar processes, with the determination of hiring demands for disabled people, women, indigenous and the non-discrimination for religion, occurred in Canada and in Ireland.

It was the multinationals, mainly the North American ones, that brought to Brazil the theme of diversity in organizations, with more intensity in the 1990s (SALES, 2018SALES, R. G. de. Diversidade nas organizações: das lutas sociais às políticas públicas. In: CONGRESSO ABRAPCORP, XII, Goiânia (GO), Abrapcorp e Faculdade de Informação e Comunicação da Universidade Federal de Goiás, 16 a 18 de maio de 2018. Anais....), but the affirmative actions (political intervention to revert inequality) were propelled by the Brazilian Constitution of 1988 and by the social movements which, besides denouncing the noncompliance of the Convention number 111 of the International Labour Organization, regarding to employment relations (TEIXEIRA, 2011TEIXEIRA, K. C da S. Discursos e práticas sobre a valorização da diversidade no âmbito empresarial: um estudo de caso. Gênero, Niterói, v.12, n.1, p. 81-108, 2011.), are purposeful in terms of elaboration of laws and concrete actions together with people who had their rights violated.

The dominant discourse of the organizations and /or of the intellectual mentors of diversity in organizations if, on one hand, is consistent with the logic of capitalism, on the other hand, shows insensitivity to the human rights cause in a civic dimension. It is talked about “diversity management”, about “social inclusion” and about “rights to diversity” as a competitive strategy (COX JR.; BLAKE, 1991COX JR., T.; BLAKE, S. Managing diversity: implications for organizational competitiveness. Academy of Management Executive, v. 5, n. 3, p. 45-57, 1991., GILBERT; STEAD; IVANCEVICH, 1999GILBERT, J. A.; STEAD, B. A.; IVANCEVICH, J. M. Diversity management: a new organizational paradigm. Journal of Business Ethics, v. 21 n. 1, p. 61-77, 1999.). That is, the business procedure in favour of inclusive practices relating to the employment of black people and people with disabilities, etc is defended because this would bring a competitive advantage. Companies that behave this way would show a management new vision, seen as innovative, capable of corresponding to social pressure and, at the same time, make a profit. By this logic, there is a reduction of inequality as a strategy interested in improving the economic performance and the reputation in society, without incorporating notions of citizenship.

In Other terms, in this perspective, it is defended that the incorporation of people who are “different” due to their diverse conditions would raise an atmosphere of motivation amongst the employees and that the team’s diversification would contribute to improve the performance, besides opening new segments in the market. It would be a way to keep and/or win over new clients, given the favourable reputation transmitted, inclusive, by their own “included” employees. Therefore, what would motivate the respect to diversity is fundamentally the advantage that it brings in relation to profitability and not the value and human needs, from the civic ethics or the collective point of view. However, as says Casali (2008)CASALI, A. Ética e sustentabilidade nas relações públicas. Organicom – Revista Brasileira de Comunicação Organizacional e Relações Públicas, São Paulo, a. 5, n. 8, p. 48-58, 2008., what should be in question nowadays, due to the societarian vision12 12 Referring to the question of sustainability, of demanding respect to diversity, distribution of a social basic income to the poor, etc. , is not anymore only of the stockholders’ interest, nor of the main public, but of the collective, of universality. It is about an ethics that is put back historically in the present. Ethics is “a group of references, principles and dispositions turned to the action of beaconing human actions between the supposedly correct and incorrect, the supposedly good and bad, the supposedly fair and unfair” (CASALI, 2008CASALI, A. Ética e sustentabilidade nas relações públicas. Organicom – Revista Brasileira de Comunicação Organizacional e Relações Públicas, São Paulo, a. 5, n. 8, p. 48-58, 2008., p. 53).

Theorists who defend the perspective of “diversity management” systemize which would be the benefits for the companies, when talking about economic performance, of the inclusion of “minorities”, as the example of Cox Jr. and Blake (1991)COX JR., T.; BLAKE, S. Managing diversity: implications for organizational competitiveness. Academy of Management Executive, v. 5, n. 3, p. 45-57, 1991.. Show the following advantages: a) Cost – As satisfaction at work tend to be lower amongst women and black people than white men, the implementation of programmes in the logic of “diversity management” (nurseries for instance) tend to change the staff and favour the reduction of costs with turnovers and absences; b) Acquiring resource – Developing the reputation of employers of women and ethnic minorities helps to attract talented employees; c) Marketing – Sensibilization for new culture that form the market; d) Creativity – Diversity of outlook and less emphasis on conformity with rules of the past increases creativity and innovation in the company; e) Problem resolution – The heterogeneity in decision-making groups increases the resolution and reduction of problems; f) Flexibility – The diversity of arguments and the less standard system operation, and therefore, more fluid, favours bigger flexibility to react to social-environmental changes.

As it can be seen, the focus above is basically functionalist and prescriptive when trying to show competitive and, consequently, economic advantages for the application of company policies in favour of diversity. This view hurts the ethics of universality when not taking into consideration the civic principles of citizenship.

However, the implantation of diversity management, as shows Alves and Galeão-Silva (2004)ALVES, M. A.; GALEÃO-SILVA, L. G. A crítica da gestão da diversidade nas organizações. RAE – Revista de Administração de Empresas, São Paulo, FGV, v. 44, n. 3, p. 1-12, 2004. Disponível em: http://www.fgv.br/rae/artigos/revista-rae-vol-44-num-3-ano-2004-nid-45993/. Acesso em: 2 maio 2018.
http://www.fgv.br/rae/artigos/revista-ra...
, is not easy in the working environment. Amongst the main obstacles pointed, the authors, referring to Austin (1997)AUSTIN, J. R. A cognitive framework for understanding demographic influences in groups. International Journal of Organizational Analysis, v. 5, n. 4, p. 342-359, 1997., Milliken and Martin (1996)MILLIKEN, F. J.; MARTIN, L. L. Searching for common threads: understanding the multiple effects of diversity in organizational groups. The Academy of Management Review, v. 21, n. 2, p. 402-434, 1996., Barry and Bateman (1996)BARRY, B.; BATEMAN, T. S. A social trap analysis of the management of diversity. The Academy of Management Review, v. 21, n. 3, p. 757-791, 1996. and Wise and Tschirhart (2000)WISE, L. R.; TSCHIRHART, M. Examining empirical evidence on diversity effects: how useful is diversity research for public-sector managers? Public Administration Review, v. 60, n. 5, p. 386-395, 2000., indicate the scepticism of the own company’s employees relating to the programmes and its effectivity; prejudicial attitude regarding colleagues or bosses who benefited from these programmes; and the difficulties in changing administration human resources routines to include the matter of diversity. In this context, changes are necessary and go beyond mere administrative procedures, including cultural (GILBERT; STEAD; IVANCEVICH, 1999GILBERT, J. A.; STEAD, B. A.; IVANCEVICH, J. M. Diversity management: a new organizational paradigm. Journal of Business Ethics, v. 21 n. 1, p. 61-77, 1999.) and cognitive (SCHNEIDER; NORTHCRAFT, 1999SCHNEIDER, S. K.; NORTHCRAFT, G. B. Three social dilemmas of workforce diversity in organizations: a social identity perspective. Human Relations, v. 52, n. 11, p. 1445-1468, 1999.) change. It is down to the public relations professionals, within others, to be alert to such change in the whole of the organizations, and to their own views and behaving patterns in the establishment of public relation programmes. The blind adhesion to the archaic company precepts does not live up to the modern times which demand respect to differences and company ethics.

In practice, if, on one hand, companies adopt affirmative actions (criteria of equity in job relations) as competitive strategies, on the other hand, there are those that adhere to affirmative actions in the restrict sense of law abiding with the intention of avoiding lawsuits (SALES, 2018SALES, R. G. de. Diversidade nas organizações: das lutas sociais às políticas públicas. In: CONGRESSO ABRAPCORP, XII, Goiânia (GO), Abrapcorp e Faculdade de Informação e Comunicação da Universidade Federal de Goiás, 16 a 18 de maio de 2018. Anais....) in the rights claiming court.

Diversity versus meritocracy

The dichotomy suggested in this heading is founded in the rejection of public politics of “affirmative action”, as the same would be contrary to the principles of meritocracy. The policies and affirmative actions, or the legal protection of the institution of mandatory inclusion systems for people with disabilities by the companies and the quota for black students in public universities, within others, can be seen as something harmful to people from discriminated groups, as they have negatively influenced, mainly, young people in their development. The view is that they can succeed by merit and that they do justice to equality by competence, without depending on institutionalized perks.

Without doubting these capabilities, is convenient to remind that the defence of meritocracy – succeed by merit – hides that, inequalities, like the ones expressed in the existence of poverty and violence, are real obstacles to most people who live in these conditions. To young poor, black, women and indigenous people, to succeed by merit means the need of a much bigger effort and a lot of deprivation relating to the young children of middle-class parents, so they can study in universities and, slowly, climb to well-paid work positions13 13 It is suggested the video “Neoliberal tragedy and meritocracy”, by Marilena Chauí, about meritocracy. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5jNea8b3hUE. Accessed on: 9 Jul. 2018. . So, the neoliberal ideology, that preaches meritocracy, naturalizes inequality and tries to make you believe that the problem of those ones who cannot “succeed” is in each one and not in the system generator of contradictions, when these are the ones that prevents social equity.

The defence of “diversity management” is also part of the notion of “racial democracy”, a bait to make believe that discrimination does not exist and, therefore, does not consider the inequality that in fact exists; for example, the illiteracy rate is higher amongst black and brown people (9.9%) than in white people (4.2%) 15 (PNAD CONTÍNUA..., 2017PNAD Contínua 2016: 51% da população com 25 anos ou mais do Brasil possuíam apenas o ensino fundamental completo. Agência IBGE Notícias, 21 dez. 2017. Disponível em: https://agenciadenoticias.ibge.gov.br/agencia-noticias/2013-agencia-de-noticias/releases/18992-pnad-continua-2016-51-da-populacao-com-25-anos-ou-mais-do-brasil-possuiam-apenas-o-ensino-fundamental-completo.html. Acesso em: 14 jul. 2018.
https://agenciadenoticias.ibge.gov.br/ag...
). Amongst the poor, young black people are assassinated more: every 23 minutes a young black person is assassinated in Brazil (CHEGA DE RACISMO..., 2017CHEGA DE RACISMO. Jovem negro vivo é potência! Geledés - Instituto da Mulher Negra. São Paulo: Geledés, 25 jul. 2017. Disponível em: https://www.geledes.org.br/chega-de-racismo-jovem-negro-vivo-e-potencia/. Acesso em: 9 jul. 2018.
https://www.geledes.org.br/chega-de-raci...
).

About poverty, 52.1 million Brazilians, a quarter of the population, live in a situation of poverty14 14 It is considered poor who lives with less than US$ 5.5 per day. in 2016 and 64.9% had restricted access to at least one of the rights, like education, social protection, suitable housing, sewage and internet basic services, according to IBGE15 15 Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics. data (SÍNTESE DE INDICADORES..., 2017SÍNTESE DE INDICADORES SOCIAIS: uma análise das condições de vida da população brasileira: 2017. IBGE - Coordenação de População e Indicadores Sociais. Rio de Janeiro: IBGE, 2017, 147 p. (Estudos e pesquisas. Informação demográfica e socioeconômica, n. 37).).

Therefore, coping with discrimination problems, only when seen by the competitive advantage point of view that companies can use when corresponding to the abiding of affirmative laws, even with the institution of policies in the so called “diversity management”, does not assume the public responsibilities in the constitution of social equity, of equality as a right to all.

On the other hand, it is convenient to highlight that management regarding diversity also faces other obstacles. In the internal level of organizations, there are routines addicted to traditional views of difference, there is scepticism and prejudice to colleagues, subordinates and bosses. For example, regarding the own person’s condition (disabled, colour, sex, ethnical origin, territorial origin, etc.) and even the disdain when reducing the value and capabilities of people who benefit from some inclusive programmes. The quotes for Afro-descendants in universities are an example. Quote students need to prove that they can intellectually stand out in front everyone to be respected by their own classmates, teachers and by the institutions.

Regarding management, there are within the views of managerial hierarchic levels, the view that the adoption of measures ruled by affirmative policies are justified to avoid court cases and, consequently, wear out the reputation and the financial expense. Therefore, the most important decision-making factor about implementation of inclusive policies had been once more the business economic interest and not the intrinsic value of people and their rights to an equal treatment in the company environment.

Nevertheless, the pertinence of criticism above all does not reduce the recognition of the earnings provided by diversity programmes implemented in some organizations.

In Brazil, where there were not any effective affirmative actions, the diversity programmes would have the merit to bring some benefits to some discriminated people, once that, through initiatives of management diversion, this same people can get their first job, or the rights that are denied to them every day

(ALVES; GALEÃO-SILVA, 2004ALVES, M. A.; GALEÃO-SILVA, L. G. A crítica da gestão da diversidade nas organizações. RAE – Revista de Administração de Empresas, São Paulo, FGV, v. 44, n. 3, p. 1-12, 2004. Disponível em: http://www.fgv.br/rae/artigos/revista-rae-vol-44-num-3-ano-2004-nid-45993/. Acesso em: 2 maio 2018.
http://www.fgv.br/rae/artigos/revista-ra...
, p. 10).

The important is that next to the affirmative actions there is a development of ethics perception of universality as a strategy to happiness, as a right to all.

Those who manage organizations and institute communicative relation programmes and of internal and external public relations are people, that is, the management is not done by immaterial beings. Even though they are being subjected to social, cultural and organizational conditioning, the managers are challenged to disengage from prejudicial views that violate citizen’s principles. Being in the world is more than to appropriate themselves of their potentialities, like, for example, labour and natural and technological wealth. It is to help them improving the dignity to all. The responsibility is of all and the earnings too.

In this sense, it is important that there is a change in the conception of general world and on the role of organizations, mainly of the owners, stockholders, managers and employees. Changes in cognitive culture and in knowledge, besides changes about prescriptive mechanisms that influence organizational practices. It is a matter of being in tune with a new historical time. As says Cortina (2005, p. 86)CORTINA, A. Cidadãos do mundo: para uma teoria da cidadania. São Paulo: Loyola, 2005.,

it is intelligent to have an ethical conduct, building “citizen companies”. Something that can be done, within other reasons, not only because it has changed the concept of company (...) but also the ethical one. The individual traditional ethics, of conviction and the other’s interest, was complemented by institutional ethics, of responsibility and of the universalizable interest.

Bottom line, it is about investing in social responsibility, not only to minimally comply with legal precepts and avoid court lawsuits, but also as a strategy to company longevity and thriving as well as of the society. If there is

clarity in the assembly of the equation, there are many benefits to harvest. In the economy of knowledge and in the “social” capitalism, the intelligence of social relations points undoubtedly to ethical wisdom, or better, to decisions that are oriented by respect to others and by the contribution to the collective well-being

(SROUR, 2003SROUR, R. H. Ética empresarial: a gestão da reputação. Rio de Janeiro: Campus, 2003., p. 411).

Final considerations

Citizenship can be comprehended if seen in the perspective of double intersection between civil rights and civic rights. While the first ones regard directly to the achievements that better the status of citizenship, the civic rights refer to a universalizing sense of people’s right, of a people and of the human species.

Civility is the way and the strategy of humanity. In the context of the modern Brazilian society, there are advances in affirmative policies instituted since the beginning of this century, although it can also be seen, in the last few years, some setbacks in public policies that reduce historical earnings in a matter of workers’ rights and social benefits, which cannot be naturalized. In the same way, we must be outraged by the conservative postures of people, mainly of professional politicians16 16 That is, there are public figures who externalize sexist and racist attitudes towards women, poor people, native people, Northeastern people etc., a sign of confronting the respect to the person’s rights. and even of judges17 17 There is a judge who considers the Maria da Penha law “destructive of homes...”. Available at: https://revistagalileu.globo.com/Sociedade/noticia/2018/02/entrevista-com-juiz-gilvan-macedo-dos-santos.html , because they confront consecrated rights of the Brazilian Constitution, and for being anti-civic. Human rights are above positions and personal convictions, as they are based on legal codes and fair precepts like the rights of the person which are really accepted and regulated.

From the Declaration of Independence of the United States (1776), the Declaration of the rights Men and Citizens of 1789, in France, until the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted and proclaimed by the General Assembly of the United Nations on the 10th September 1948, there is a clear and emphatic defence of the natural rights of the person and equality between them – without the distinction of any kind, whether of race, colour, sex, language, religion, political opinion or from other nature, national origin, wealth, birth, or any other condition, as inalienable.

They are principles which observance is of responsibility of all and, as such, private and public organizations that deal with people and interfere in the environment. Remembering that such organizations do not work by accident. They are managed by people, and by the confluence of actions of qualified professionals. Responsibilities is also up to each one. Before the role you perform come your role as a citizen, your moral and civic co-responsibility. Instead of regressing, the natural way is to advance in the respect of social human rights, that represent achievements of society throughout centuries.

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Publication Dates

  • Publication in this collection
    03 Sept 2021
  • Date of issue
    May-Aug 2021

History

  • Received
    25 Feb 2019
  • Accepted
    03 Mar 2021
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