An they can really make or break how successful

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An HR Manager’s Guide to Doing Business in Brazil

 

Miguel Gonzalez

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Steven Lam

Vanessa Torres

Veronica Hampson

 

 

California State
University, Long Beach

 

 

Introduction

For
the average American, the idea of being sent on an expatriate assignment in
Brazil may seem extremely daunting. However, this guide is here to help you get
acclimated with some of the cultural values in business, business etiquette,
human resource practices, and diversity that may be
challenging when first settling into a new expatriate position. Brazil
is rapidly becoming a symbol of
international growth and development. As
far as cultural values in the business world, we will be discussing a couple
differences to expect as well as a key similarity between Brazil and the U.S. In
regards to recruitment, there are no diversity
policies in place to promote recruitment of underrepresented groups. The
problem of the racial and gender wage inequality in Brazil still continues
to be a problem. There are  gaps in occupational distribution and wages
among diversified workforce. Although help from the
government and media did not remove inequality at workplace, they did encourage
companies to implement diversity programs to make inequality less severe.  While our two
countries may seem to have many differences, the findings listed here will
surely show that with a little guidance Brazil is great place to do business.

Cultural
Values

When comparing the cultural values of the United States
to those of Brazil a few differences will become clear almost immediately. The
two most important differences to be aware of when conducting business as an
American in Brazil are the fact that the Brazilian workforce is much more male
dominated and the fact that Brazilians are highly resistant to change. While
these may seem to be small differences, they can really make or break how
successful an outside business will be in the country.

            Conducting business in the United States is, generally,
in a diverse setting that encourages both men and women to strive for success
regardless of sexual orientation, focusing mostly on the individual’s ability to perform. However, in Brazil the
country is extremely male dominated and does not strongly encourage women to be
driving forces within the business world. According to a study done on Hispanic
countries, “Latin American countries are generally male dominated societies,
where the masculine values are more highly valued than feminine values”
(Greenwood 2012). This same study found that Brazil ranks at a 27 on the
masculinity index, compared to the United States which only ranks at a 15, this
is a huge difference to keep in mind (Greenwood 2012). Having this information,
it may be wise to implement women in the work force more carefully or slowly
open the door to hearing ideas presented by women, rather than conducting co-ed
business as usual in America.

            The United States is a dynamic country with people
constantly pushing the limit on innovation and taking chances whenever they
seem promising, Brazil has just the opposite of this mindset. A study done
comparing leadership in various countries found that, “the United States has a low ranking of 46 on
the uncertainty avoidance dimension expressing a society with fewer rules and
regulations; they have a higher acceptance for new ideas and innovations…
Brazil, on the other hand, has a ranking of 76 showing that this country
prefers to have stricter control and are less welcoming to new concepts and
beliefs” (Steinberg 2017). This strict mindset in Brazil carries over from the
business world to the government as well. Working within a country so resistant
to change may make an innovative company difficult to staff and the company may
have a tough time working with the government when needed.

            These differences are very important to keep in mind but
there are some similarities between Brazil and the United States. One of the
best similarities between the two is, “for long-term orientation, U.S. ranks 29 and Brazil ranks 44. Both
prefer time-honored traditions and look for quick results” (Steinberg 2017).

This may just be one similarity in a sea of differences but it is a key one.

The fact that both countries strive for results and maintain tradition show
that once a foundation is built it may be possible to set aside differences in
order to succeed.

Business Etiquette

First and foremost, timelines are
different in Brazil. If one is meeting face to face over lunch for the first
time, a tardy CEO should be expected. CEO’s may be up to 30 minutes late for a
meeting, so do not be offended. Brazilians see time as something outside of
their control. Schedule accordingly, and don’t plan any business trips to
Brazil during Carnivale week. (44 days before Easter) (Jerven, 2013) Carnivale is held every year before
lent, and considered to be the biggest carnival in the world, with as many as
two million people per day on the streets. It is simply not the time to be
conducting business.

The standard greeting is often a long
handshake with steady eye contact. It’s a kiss on each cheek for women.

Brazilians speak Portuguese as well, and not Spanish. The basic Portuguese
pleasantries should be learned, such as: “good morning” (bom dia), “good
afternoon” (boa tarde), and “how are you” (como esta). Make sure to dress sharp
as well, it is imperative that one dresses as well as Brazilians do. Manicures
are expected for women. (Jerven, 2013)

People here in the U.S. often conduct business over the
phone and email, but in Brazil, in-person meetings are mandatory. Meeting face
to face builds trust with potential business partners. All business meetings
also involve coffee, or as Brazilians call it, cafezinho. It is a very strong,
concentrated, and sweet cup of coffee. It is an acquired taste, and potential
business partners might raise an eyebrow if one does not partake. (Jerven,
2013)

Brazilians are extremely animated as
well, conversation is also informal a lot of the time. Share personal details,
and do not worry about interrupting others. Interrupting others during
conversation is not only acceptable, but encouraged, it signifies enthusiasm.

(Jerven, 2013)

People in Brazil really appreciate and love foreigners.

When they know a person is from another country, they want to speak in the
native language of the person. Foreigners have a different status in Brazil,
and Brazilians like to create personal relationships with them because of it.

It can get to the point where it is uncomfortable though. Many expatriates
complain that they feel an uncomfortable fixation of Brazilians towards them.

The demand for friendship can be excessive, and some expatriates opt for
friendships with other expatriates, rather than with Brazilian people.

Foreigners are the center of attention, so expect large amount of people
attempting to forge a friendship, and expect party invitations, and dinners.

(Malinia, et al, 2014)

Many rules are also not followed at
work, and this can be seen as counterproductive to a person from the U.S..

Brazilian teammates insist on seeing expatriates as heroes or saviors. That
causes problems for some, because they are forced into leadership roles. The
way to get things done in Brazil is also different. The best practice would be
to act relational, use personal influences, and get to know important people to
have doors opened when needed. Getting something as simple as an internet
connection can take forever without the proper connections. People in Brazil
are always worried about making things seem to be close to the standards or
norms, but it’s normal to see a very big difference from what they preach and
actually do. (Malinia, et al, 2014)

HR Practices

Human Resources professionals in Brazil face an array of problems similar
to those faced in the United States. Challenges around substance abuse, compensation
and retention are some of the prevalent issues. Recruitment, performance,
training, pay setting, and work conditions are some of the topics discussed
below.

RECRUITMENT: Brazil talent leaders are concentrating on upgrading
recruiting team skills and employee referral programs more so than those in
other markets. Employer brand impact is the number one reason Brazilians invest
in employer brand. They ranked internal hiring/transfers the highest compared
to other countries. (Mauer, 2014) In Brazil, recruitment arrangements reflect
very diverse employee categories. Some are fairly broad and provide
opportunities for functional careers, while others are intended for specific
functions and only provide for salary progression. Some of the best emloyers
prioritize internal hiring and support employees who want to move within. Some of
their most common hiring practices include: structured internal hiring process
and supportive culture, proactive sourcing, investing in employer brainding
strategy, targeted job posting strategy, and workforce planning. (Stephen, 2000)
More and more employers are focusing and valuing internal hiring. Some of the advantages
of internal hiring include: retaining top talent, develop talent and
professional development, improve employee productivity, higher quality of
candidate and its cost efficient. There are no diversity policies in place to
promote recruitment of underrepresented groups. According to Mauer the top 3
social media channels for recruiting Brazilian Professionals are:

1) Facebook.com

2) br.linkedin.com

3) Twitter.com

Social Professsional networks
are the fastest growping source of quality hires in Brazil. Compared to the
United States, Brazil is still developing its LinkedIn resources but research
shows that they are contining its efforts to further its LinkedIn resources.  

PERFORMANCE: All parts of the Brazilian federal administration are
expected to carry out performance assessments for their statutory employees. Society
has demanded that Brazilian public organizations be more efficient and
effective in use of public resources and in their operations. In some organizations,
assessments rely on the personal opinion of the closest supervisor. In Brazil,
compared to some components of professionalization of the public sector admission
by merit, continuous training focused on skills and remuneration compatible
with the market , the performance appraisal system requires further improvements
to become an effective instrument for individual and institutional development.

Assessment is mandatory for almost all public employees, and takes the form of
an annual meeting with and written feedback from, the immediate superior.

Performance assessment is of medium importance to career advancement and
remuneration.

            Brazil and the
United States have some similarities and some differences in public performance
appraisal. Both countries have central manager offices for the performance
appraisal system. In Brazil, the rewards for good performance are monthly
bonuses, paid in the paycheck during the entire year, complementary to the
salary, and progression or promotion in career, which increases the salary. In
US, the reward can be determined by the agency, but never as a way to
complement the salary. It must be in a single payment or a honorary/informal
recognition or time-off award. While in Brazil the performance appraisal system
and the rewards are regulated by law and controlled by Ministério
do Planejamento, Orçamento e Gestão (MPOG), each US agency
has authority to choose how to award employees, and the US Office of Personnel
Management (OPM) has the authority to waive laws and 25 regulations to enable
agencies to experiment with new and innovative human resources systems,
regarding some certain principles that promote the public interest. (Mauer,
2014)  It gives the opportunity to the
agencies to choose alternative ways of using performance management. According
to the above, it’s possible to conclude that the American public performance appraisal
system is not much different from the Brazilian system. Both are centralized
and regulated by law and have standards to all federal agencies.

WORK CONDITIONS: The average yearly working hours in Brazil, 1, 766
hours in 2010, is quite close to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and
Development (OECD) average of 1,745 hours. n Brazil the maximum working hours per week are usually
40 to 44 hours, depending upon whether the employee works 5 or 6 days a week. (Stepehn,
2000) Similarly to the US, Brazilian employers
are obliged to provide a healthy and safe workplace to employees and to comply
with all mandatory regulations regarding healthy and safety matters. There are
several regulations providing for strict rules concerning mandatory periodical
medical examinations, medical examinations upon admission and termination,
medical records, environmental risks prevention, creation and maintenance of an
Internal Commission for Accident Prevention (CIPA), health-hazard and dangerous
activities and the corresponding allowances and ergonomics, among others.

DIVERSITY

Brazil is a heterogenous society made
of people of different national origins. Immigrants in Brazil come from Africa,
Portuguese, European, and some countries in Asia; so that we can divide
Brazilians into white, black,yellow and mixed ethnic groups.

Brazil has a similar ideology of human
right to the United States; however, the

discrimination against the minorities still exist in
Brazil. Although Brazil’s anti-racism movement raised the government and
media’s awareness on the discrimination issues, many minorities have poor
social and economic opportunities due to the racial and gender disparities . One
of the reason associated with the racial and gender inequality is the unequal
distribution of Brazil’s population and economic development. In Brazil,
majority of citizens do not acquire a high education level ,and many of them
did not get a chance to finish a high school education (Lovell, 2000). For
example, International Labour Organization publication in 2016 showed that one
of five young afro-descendants and one of four young women do not have chances
to study and work. (Lovell 2000) White Brazilian’s high education completion
was 3 times higher than other races in Brazil. Besides, women in Brazil have a
higher high-level education completion than men because of their desire to
become competitive in the labour market. Despite the fact that a higher
education background help Brazilians get a better job; however, even highly
educated women have less chances to acquire work cards and social security than
men in all races.(Lovell) The oppressed groups lose the worker legal right by
federal laws, and health and pension benefits covered by the government. Therefore,
we can expect that Afro-Brazilians in Bahia(poor region at north) suffer from extreme
disadvantages in the Brazilian labour market as they experience the greatest
gender and racial disparities in the poorer region.(Lovell) In 1996, Brazil
government has created the National Program of Human Rights to protect the
minorities from unfair employment opportunities and treatment as the noticeable
gender and racial inequalities still exist.(Maria) According to the article ”
The Management of Culture Diversity: Lessons from Brazilian Companies”, to
combat the employment discrimination and wages disparities, manager from a
subsidiary of U.S company can develop programs to lower the diversity issues by
checking the chart composition of current employees , setting up HR
policy(recruitment and selection),and providing training and career path to the
minorities. Although many companies in Brazil may not value gender diversity,
for example women are generally earning less than men in the same position,
manager from the U.S company should be aware of the impact of violating the
anti-discrimination law and the high chances of being sued by the unsatisfied
employees.

                                                      
 Conclusion

All of the information presented in
this guide has hopefully helped ease some doubts or reservations about what
Brazilian business is truly like to experience. Despite having differences in
masculine/feminine presence in the workplace and differences in the comfort
level of risk taking, simply having the knowledge that these differences exist
will be a leg up when entering an expat assignment. The same can be said for
now having the knowledge that Brazilians, similar to the U.S., are result
driven and value traditions. Rather than being presented as a challenge, it
will now be possible to use these facts as guidelines for how to conduct
business and get the approval of new colleagues in Brazil.

Bibliography

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94-111.

 

Jerven, Taraneh Ghajar (2013) Doing
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Le, V., & Steinberg, H. (2017).

ENTREPRENEURIAL LEADERSHIP IN BRAZIL, JAPAN, AND THE USA. Allied Academies
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Lovell, Peggy A. “Race, Gender and Regional
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277–293.

 

Malinia, Elise; Felix von Borell de
Araujoa, Bruno; Mendes Teixeirab, Maria Luisa; Bastos da Cruza, Poliano (2014)
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