3% Conference session brings light to a 'privilege clash' of Brazilian and US talent

Laura Chiavone of Tribal Worldwide leads a talk on Brazilian talent at the 3% Conference

There has been plenty written about how a wealth of creative talent is being infused into the US agency market from Latin America, but little has been done to see how that talent is adapting to working in another country.

New findings will be released at the 3% Conference showing that, specifically for Brazilians, it is not a seamless transition between countries and cultures. The Lunch + Learn session on Thursday at the conference finds two Brazilian transplants talking about their native country people in ‘The Privilege Clash: A Brazilian Case Study.’

Laura Chiavone, chief strategy officer at Tribal Worldwide and PJ Pereira, founder and chief creative officer at Pereira & O’Dell will talk about their findings based on 200 interviews with employers, managers and Brazilians who have come to the US in the past decade. They will explain how expectations make it difficult for the group to adjust to culture, working style and behavior, but offer solutions as to how to make it better.

Chiavone came to the US six months ago from Brazil, and she saw the articles touting Brazilian talent, but all the talent being discussed was male dominated.

“I was very upset about it,” said Chiavone. “[The articles] were all about men – mostly white. There are so many amazing women working in the US and other countries that should be recognized. For that reason, I decided that I had to do something.”

She created a project bluntly called ‘Find the Woman,’ which targeted journalists. She aimed to provide writers and editors with a list of “a lot of incredible women, so next time they write a piece they’ll have plenty of options.” That project became so big – what started as wanting a list of 100 women ended up growing to 300. One day the movement got coverage by all the major Brazilian outlets, “so basically we became famous,” she added.

3% Conference founder Kat Gordon was one of the people Chiavone asked for support on the project, which is why it’s tied to the conference. Gordon was already talking with Pereira as well to get closer to the Brazilian market, so the connection made sense.

Pereira is also a part of the Free the Bid project, which asks agencies to include a female director on every triple-bid project and which has seen growing success. But he and Chiavone wanted to bring something to the 3% Conference which wasn’t known yet, so along with highlighting the talent coming from Latin America, they also decided to show the differences in culture.

New findings lead to better understanding

“We decided to bring new information that bringing diversity is not only about recruiting... to have a real and successful diversity effort, you have to make sure you are bringing people, onboarding them in the right way and creating the best environment for them to be successful,” said Chiavone.

“We decided to interview people across [Brazil], and now we’re interviewing people from other countries to make comparisons with the answers of Brazilians. Some of the main findings we have is that people don’t know what the other people don’t know when they are starting to work together,” she said, meaning that people don’t realize the cultural and work style differences they may have in working together.

She added that Brazilians are seen as hard-working, talented and creative, but some people think Brazilian workers are spoiled or individualistic, according to their queries, and their findings give rise to the title of the session.

“Americans are naturally privileged – living in a first world country, lots of budget money, and bringing people from all over the place. The Brazilians who are coming here, they’re also privileged. If they have this opportunity, they probably had a very good education, they have a great family, a great career. And in Brazil, different from America, we have lots of help – people to do things for us – secretaries, assistants, HR people who do everything for their employers, and here you have to do everything by yourself.

“This is one of the clashes that we find. So we have people here hiring Brazilians, expecting them to know the culture here, and when the Brazilians have to clue on how to proceed, people here think they are being lazy or spoiled. On the other hand, Brazilians are thinking ‘oh my god, these people don’t want to help me. They don’t want me to be successful.’”

Chiavone explained that some have come to America and didn’t know they had to get Social Security in order to get a paycheck, among other culture shock situations. Their aim is to help both sides to talk and understand each other better.

Offering a solution to both sides

She said that her and Pereira’s discussion will offer solutions so the cultural rifts are mended.

“We need to unleash the full potential of people, giving them freedom. Diversity, in a broader term, is one of the best ways to make it happen. Because you have different backgrounds and different ways to deal with the rules, which allows a little bit of chaos that is needed to have the best creative output,” said Chiavone.

Chiavone said the one thing she wants people to take away from the session is that they need to questions themselves and be more humble. Obligations is one of the most important words that PJ and I have been discussing, because knowing the obligations is something we should not expect someone else to have an obligation towards us before having a conversation.

She also expects the conversation at the 3% Conference to move beyond gender, which is the theme for this year’s event. “I really hope to see the conversation not being from women to women… and expect to see it go beyond gender because we need to move forward,” she concluded.

Wunderman proudly supports The Drum’s 3% Conference coverage. We believe true diversity does not check boxes, it checks itself. http://wunderman.com/

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Kyle O'Brien

I am a reporter for The Drum covering a wide array of topics but always trying to tell the best stories possible. I am a former west coaster from California and Portland, Oregon, now living in Pennsylvania — with time spent in NYC each week.

I also play saxophone professionally.

All by Kyle