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The IDB discusses diversity and inclusion in Brazil

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) held, on October 13 in Brasilia, a seminar on racial and gender diversity and inclusion: Mind Bugs: Challenges in Decision-Making.

The purpose of the seminar was to support diversity and inclusion by improving the understanding of the decision-making process and the issues that often influence it. Harvard University professor and researcher Dr. Mahzarin Banaji participated as a visiting expert. Dr. Banaji spoke about ways prejudice can affect decisions in social and business settings, highlighting issues of the everyday and the role of the unconscious in decision making. 

The meeting brought together more than 300 policy makers, academics, representatives of civil society and the private sector, and IDB officials. The Executive Vice President of the Bank, Julie T. Katzman, and Minister Luiza Bairros, head of Brazil’s Secretariat for the Promotion of Racial Equality (SEPPIR), were also present. 

The seminar was part the Bank’s efforts to improve diversity and inclusion in its own operations. And it provided participating organizations with an opportunity to reassess their own internal processes. 

The promotion of a more diversified and inclusive environment is one of the 2011-2012 goals set by IDB President Luis Alberto Moreno and Executive Vice President Katzman. After the seminar, the Bank held its own internal meeting of senior IDB officials, who discussed ways to promote diversity and inclusion in all IDB country offices. 

"The IDB has an unequivocal commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion. A new IDB's Gender Strategy was approved last year and we are in the midst of the first year of an action plan to implement it. A policy for indigenous peoples and indigenous development has been implemented since 2006 and we are undertaking specific activities to promote the development with identity of African-descendants", said Julie T. Katzman, Executive Vice President of the Inter-American Development Bank. She added, "These are challenges for which we are continuously identifying and developing solutions. We need to have a better understanding of what the drivers for exclusion are, to be bold in our diagnostics and develop compelling data; and we need to be proactive at establishing targets to reach traditionally excluded groups - mainstreaming this activity in all of our work."

Minister Bairros emphasized the “need to take into account ways of looking at social diversity, especially with regard to gender and race.""This initiative will help us with public policies to best promote racial equality," she said. “This cooperation is extremely important to face the challenges of development."

The IDB representative in Brazil, Fernando Carrillo-Florez, reinforced the Bank's commitment to becoming increasingly diverse and inclusive. "We need to break down stereotypes and prejudices to effectively support the development of public policies for social inclusion," he said.  

Carrillo also commented on the support the Bank expects to give Brazil. "This seminar is a starting point for dealing with questions of identity. We are discussing with SEPPIR our first effort to develop a program of institutional strengthening for the secretariat." 

Professor and Researcher Dr. Mahzarin Banaji

Dr. Banaji’s is recognized internationally for her academic and scientific contributions on prejudice and its impact. She is a professor and researcher at Harvard; has taught at Yale and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study; and is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Association of Scientific Psychology, and the Association of Experimental Social Psychology. 

Based on research into the attitudes and beliefs of adults and children, Banaji explores the social consequences of unconscious thoughts and feelings.