Working for Parity: Overcoming the gender challenge in Brazil

BP is working with the communities surrounding our sugar cane ethanol mills in Brazil to help women overcome the challenges of joining the workforce

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“We have more than doubled the total number of women in our workforce at the mills since 2012, but women still only represent 13% of the total number of employees. We have a long way to go but we are on the right path.” 

- BP Biofuels Director of strategy, communications and social responsibility, Carolina Fratta.

BP Brazil held a networking event on a previous International Women's day attended by some 600 female employees to better understand the issues women were facing and also to develop a positive action plan to affect change. Specifically, the development of training programmes to make it easier for women to enter the workforce and learn the skills they need while on the job.

The figures are beginning to stack up. As of June 2016, 757 women are employed in administrative, agricultural, industrial, or maintenance roles bringing female participation within these areas up from 8% to almost 13% in three years; in agricultural roles alone, we have increased our employee count to 336 or (7%) from only 78 workers in 2013.

The women of BP Brazil have shown an immense work-ethic and professionalism - aspects of their lives that they are keen to share with others. 

Cristiane de Araujo

Cristiane de Araujo has experienced the benefits of the programme first hand. She has achieved her ambition to become an agricultural machine operator and now works with BP Brazil on a full-time basis. Christiane expresses great pride in her profession. 

She says: "When they ask me 'what do you do?' [now] I can say 'I'm an operator!'"

Her job has earned her a formal contact, health insurance, a dental plan and other benefits previously not available to her - things that make her feel, as she says, "more valued." This has given her the drive to progress. "I really want to grow," she says. "In the future, I want to operate a harvester."

Claudiélia Arantes

This sense of accomplishment is a sentiment shared by Claudiélia Arantes. “I used to just stay at home, not working anywhere,” she reflects. Like Christiane, she completed her training and is now a full time irrigation officer.

“After my studies, I had the opportunity to work here at BP. I am feeling fulfilled and very happy.”

Gisele Costa

Gisele Costa, is an agricultural support co-ordinator, having worked her way up through the company. “I began as a farmer,” she recalls, “manually cutting sugar cane. Nowadays I take care of [around] one thousand people here at BP.”

Gisele was the first woman to become a team leader in agriculture at BP Brazil. She admits that being the first woman in charge of a group of men was “daunting.” However, Gisele feels she has proven her worth not only to her team but also – and more importantly - to herself.

“To hear my children telling me how proud they are of me … it’s very good,” she says. 

“This is a very masculine world; but here I am, working with the manager, co-ordinating and leading… I really have no words.”

These are good beginnings. But they are only beginnings. 

BP’s Energy Outlook’s regional insight on Brazil predicts that renewables consumption (including biofuels) will grow by 4.8% per annum from 2015 to 2035 – with our commitment to increase the representation of women in the workplace set grow alongside it. 

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