“Every person wants to feel respected and appreciated for who they are.” That is the message Lorenna Oliveira wants everyone to hear.
Lorenna, who is based in Curitiba, Brazil, is Electrolux Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) and Social Responsibility Manager for Latin America, Chair of the local Electrolux Diversity Committee ‘Misture-se’ and a leading figure in Latin America leading the conversation for equity. She explains what working in D&I means to her.
How it all began
Lorenna first joined Electrolux as an internal communications coordinator in 2011. Her work with D&I at Electrolux then began in 2016 when she helped create and facilitate a Women Empowerment Workshop. “I had the opportunity to hear stories from so many women with different dreams and backgrounds.” Those insights sparked a passion inside Lorenna to get involved and do more. “In the past, I was one of those people who wasn’t comfortable really talking about who I am. That’s why this work is important for me. Because no one should feel that way. Everyone should feel safe to be true to who they are and accepted as they are.”
In 2018, she took on the role of Ethnicity Subcommittee Leader for Misture-se before stepping into her current role in 2020. “The more I got involved, the more I realized that D&I wasn’t just something I did at work, it was my own story. As a black bisexual woman with origins from one of the poorest regions of Brazil, I am part of these minoritized groups. Now I contribute to closing the gaps that still exist in the world.”
The new global Electrolux D&I framework sends a message to our employees, our consumers, our partners, and the market that we work hard to make a positive difference in all lives. “Following this guide helps us achieve our ambition and purpose, which makes us stronger and a better employer,” says Lorenna.
The best part of the work for Lorenna is working with people. She explains: “I am really excited about the positive impact we have on each other and the community around us. D&I is individual and personal, but at the same time collective. The work we do to ensure equity for everyone can change individual lives of our colleagues and transform our neighborhoods and societies.”
Lorenna has seen great strides with the company’s D&I work in Latin America. Regarding the local employee network Misture-se, she explains that all employees in Latin America are welcome to join. The network engages with employees through five subcommittees – ethnicity, gender, generations, people with disability and LGBT+. "People naturally understand they can be who they really are and share their thoughts and ideas for change. From its launch in 2018 to now, Misture-se has seen 1000% growth!”
She believes the key to continued success depends on each of us as we continue our journey to be a leader within diversity. “We need to actively listen to our people to ensure we are building a respectful environment not just when we need to say we are, but at all times. We also need to challenge ourselves to broaden our teams. We won’t achieve equity if more women remain in HR and Marketing, while men commonly fill IT and Engineering roles, for example."
Her advice to others? “Listen with your heart and be an active listener, without judgment. Understand that everyone wants to feel respected and appreciated for who they are. Be the one who creates change or shows a genuine interest in someone else. Be the one who brings people together.”
More about Lorenna:
Where is home?
I’m a proud person from Bahia, the place where Brazil was born, and I feel a deep connection with the beautiful beaches, special foods, and warm, energized and faithful people!
Hanging out with friends and spending time with my wife of 17 years Cristiamari.
What is the best advice someone has given you?
To be who I am! To be true to myself and faithful to my beliefs, my values, my story and my ancestry. This gives me courage to go forward on my journey and believe in my decisions.
Do you have tips for movies, books or podcasts that can help us learn more about D&I?
Movies – Moonlight; Hidden Figures; La Famille Bélier (French)
Books – Inclusify (Stefanie K. Johnson); Becoming (Michelle Obama); To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
TED – The Danger of a Single Story (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie); Why we have too few women leaders (Sheryl Sandberg); How to overcome our biases? Walk boldly toward them (Vernã Myers)