In many of the communities where we live and work, this year has been a wake-up call to the pain and impact of long-standing racial inequality and social injustice. In June, AB InBev pledged to be part of the solution and to use our platform and influence to inspire change.
Listening and taking action
Our Ambev team in Brazil, where we have nearly 30,000 colleagues, started by expanding offerings from BOCK (Building Opportunities for Colleagues of all Kinds), the company’s first group of its kind, created by Black employees in 2017. BOCK promotes racial diversity and equal treatment in the workplace through education on topics like structural racism and ways to be anti-racist. BOCK hosts events, offers online trainings and an online toolkit, they also lead a Black reading group and town halls to facilitate thought-provoking discussion among colleagues and experts.
“BOCK is transforming our company,” says Ambev intern, Marcos Madeira. “We’re attracting more diverse talent, partnering with our brands to be more inclusive in our products and marketing, and bringing our colleagues together for real, honest conversations and learning.”
After employee demographic statistics and surveys revealed a lack of diversity in the office, specifically among Black Brazilians, Ambev also joined other corporations in signing a ‘Business Initiative for Equality’ with Zumbi dos Palmares, a prestigious university nationally recognized for its focus on Black culture and anti-racism.
Attracting more diverse talent
In 2020, Ambev also increased the number of interns invited to Representa, an internship program giving young talent access to scholarships, mentoring and business courses, plus psychological, legal and financial support. The program proved a success, providing specialized development opportunities for interns and resulting in more than 100 new Black interns working for Ambev, including Vera Honorato.
“Representa opened the doors to a company that is more human and genuinely committed to racial equality,” says Vera. “But for me, the biggest achievement of the program is being able to perpetuate black stories of hope and success. For young Blacks, becoming an intern at the world’s leading brewer is life-changing.”
Making public commitments
In response to the unrest that followed the murder of George Floyd in the US, the Brazil team made a public pledge to expand representation of Black people in the workforce, promote awareness of diversity and inclusion, and foster diversity across the supply chain. A Diversity & Inclusion Committee was created with thought leaders in anti-racism and company leaders to help advocate for further action, including “takeovers” of Ambev leaders’ LinkedIn profiles to bring more visibility to the issue of racial inequality.
And in November, when João Alberto Silveira Freitas, a Black man, was murdered in Brazil, Ambev made a public statement the next day, condemning the act and calling for action, saying in part: “For all of us, our employees and the Black community, the sadness, frustration and fear generated by recurring acts of violence like this are profound and personal. We are committed to helping create positive change and a world where diversity and respect are the norm.”
Continuing the journey
As conversations about racial inequality continue worldwide, we know there is more work to be done. In Brazil we are committed to continuing to listen, seeking out more best practices, creating opportunities for better representation, monitoring our progress every month and introducing a ‘buddy program’ to welcome new hires to the company. Through these initiatives and more, we are committed to helping build a better world.