Diversity in technology: Driving companies in Latin America 

Diversity in technology: Driving companies in Latin America 

Meerah Rajavel, CIO, Palo Alto Networks, says LATAM companies are embracing diversity as a strategic business move, recognising its capacity to drive innovation, enhance decision-making and cultivate a more productive work atmosphere. 

Meerah Rajavel, CIO, Palo Alto Networks

In recent years, diversity in technology teams has emerged as a significant factor in driving companies in the sector toward leadership in their respective industries.  

This concern not only reflects growing attention to inclusion but is also grounded in solid data highlighting the tangible benefits that a more diverse team brings to organisational financial performance and innovation. 

According to data from the Association of Information Technology and Communication (ICT) and Digital Technologies Companies (Brasscom), the presence of people with disabilities, women and Black people in the technology market in Latin America is still significantly underrepresented.  

In Brazil, for example, although 24% of the population has some form of physical or motor difficulty, these PwD professionals occupy only 0.8% of sector vacancies.  

Additionally, women, who constitute 51% of the Brazilian population, represent only 20% of technology professionals in the country.  

This disparity is even more evident when observing the representation of black and multiracial individuals, who make up only 34.9% of the total workforce in the sector, despite comprising the majority of the country’s population, estimated at 56.1% according to data from the Continuous National Household Sample Survey (PNAD) by IBGE (Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics).  

This underrepresentation extends to Argentina as well, where only 30% of the tech workforce comprises women, according to data from the Argentine Software Industry Chamber.  

Moreover, women’s absence from leadership positions exacerbates the gender gap in the sector.  

This is why measures are urgently required to change this situation and to achieve gender access to these spaces historically occupied by men. 

However, a global study carried out by the consultancy McKinsey, demonstrates that companies with greater gender and ethnic diversity are more likely to outperform their competitors in financial performance.  

According to this research, companies with greater gender diversity report a 21% better performance than those less diverse, while companies with greater ethnic diversity achieve a 33% higher performance. 

These numbers reveal a direct correlation between diversity and business success, highlighting the benefits of a diversified workforce in pursuit of operational excellence and innovation. 

Commitment to diversity fosters better business practices in organisations that adopt this approach.  

Employees of these companies are more likely to have greater freedom, both in terms of their identity and their ways of working.  

According to a study, employees of organisations perceived as committed to diversity are 11% more likely to report that they can “be themselves” at work, which likely encourages them to engage and contribute.  

Additionally, employees tend to feel less like “outsiders” in the workplace. 

In Latin America, specifically, investment in diversity has proven to be an even more advantageous strategy.  

According to McKinsey’s research conducted across six countries in the region, companies that prioritize gender, racial, and sexual orientation diversity tend to significantly outperform financially those that do not.  

In Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Peru and Panama, corporations with greater gender diversity have a 55% greater chance of achieving superior financial results compared to the sector average.  

This increase in EBIT margin (earnings before interest and taxes) underscores the positive impact that diversity can have on the profitability and sustainability of companies in the region. 

Investing in diversity and inclusion yields financial gains and fosters an innovative organizational culture.  

Companies in Latin America are embracing diversity as a strategic business move, recognizing its capacity to drive innovation, enhance decision-making, and cultivate a more productive work atmosphere.  

By harnessing the varied experiences, perspectives, and skills of diverse individuals, companies can effectively address complex challenges and cater to a broader customer demographic. 

A clear example is Natura, a Brazilian cosmetics company, which saw a 16% increase in innovation and a 24% improvement in employee satisfaction due to these initiatives.  

Similarly, Mercado Livre, the leading Argentine e-commerce platform in the region, has implemented diversity and inclusion policies, resulting in more collaborative teams, higher talent retention and better financial performance.  

A notable example was a 35% increase in talent retention in areas where their diversity policies were effectively implemented.  

These examples demonstrate how investment in diversity not only strengthens companies’ competitiveness but also contributes to their sustainability in the global market. 

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