The FIFA Women's World Cup in France began. In addition to the natural interest provoked by a tournament of this size, the dispute will have a special taste for Bayer employees, who will watch all the Brazilian national team games, with popcorn and soda.
Bayer's employees gathered to cheer for Brazil's girls
There will be more opportunities to be enchanted by the talent of the team led by Marta, elected six times the best in the world. In addition to the pursuit of goals and victories, Brazilians who enter the field will be continuing a long struggle for equal rights in sports. And so far it has not been easy.
Opponents include prejudice, intolerance, and injustice that are reflected not only in lower salaries than men, but above all in interference with women's decisions, what women might or might not do. Not to go too far, as incredible as it may seem, just remember that some women's sports were simply banned for a long time by Brazilian law - not coincidentally, always during exceptional regimes.
In 1941, in the New State Regime, Getúlio Vargas signed Decree-Law 3,199, whose article 54 determined that “women will not be allowed to practice sports incompatible with the conditions of their nature”. To be sure, in 1965, in the military dictatorship, a resolution from the National Sports Council decided: “Women's fights of any kind, soccer, indoor soccer, beach soccer, polo, weightlifting and baseball are not allowed”. Despite its absurdity, this resolution was not revoked until 1979.
At Bayer, what prevails is support for equality and freedom of choice, and since before the 2000s, the company has had a women's soccer team that performs well in competitions and for seven years in a row has reached the podium of the Sindusfarma Games, being double champion in soccer and double champion in futsal. The team consists of players between 20 and 45 years old, who work in different areas of the company. It has lawyer, engineer, IT and government relations professionals, from interns to managers, and it was they who first came up with the idea of broadcasting the games to Bayer employees.
Bayer’s female soccer team
Among Bayer’s soccer players, people are expected to change the way they see women's sports. “Nowadays, the prejudice against women who play soccer is lower, but unfortunately it still exists. When I was a child, women's soccer began to have some space. I’ve always wanted to play soccer on the street with the boys, but that wasn't seen as a cool thing,” says Izete Matos, Bayer Quality Projects specialist, the team's oldest player, double champion and less-leaved goalkeeper at the Sindusfarma Games.
Some sought support from All In, an Affinity Group responsible for Bayer's gender equity actions, as well as the Communication and the Human Resources teams. Cibele Rudge, leader of the All In group, says that this can make many people reflect. “During the men's soccer world cup, no one questions the right to watch the games, but women's soccer is not valued, and that goes against our concept of gender equity. We must always stimulate reflection and implement actions that make a difference in order to live in a more balanced society. We must all contribute to change,” says Cibele.
On the 13th, when Brazil faced Australia, Bayer took advantage of the moment of integration to promote a review, which was attended by Daniela Alves, former professional player and current coach of Corinthians women's under-17 team and journalist Gabriela Nolasco, from Jogadelas, a journalistic-analytical site that promotes the naturalization of women's work within the sports environment, as well as members of the company's women's soccer team. They were part of a conversation round about the visibility of sport for women.
A Bayer review was held in order to answer questions from the audience and analyze the performance of the women's soccer team in the match against Australia
In addition to a moment of integration among employees and awareness on the value of the female presence, actions such as this represent a very important move, especially when it comes to a large company. The Review took place live for employees of the Socorro site, Bayer's headquarters in São Paulo, and was broadcast to over 30 other locations.
"I believe that big companies have to be at the forefront when it comes to inclusion and diversity, as they should pull society. This is a huge challenge and we often have difficulty looking at the small steps we are climbing and celebrating. We look at that huge ladder, those 1,000 steps that we still have to climb to get there and we don't look at the 200 we have already climbed. That's the importance of the mobilization we're seeing at the Women's Soccer Cup. Who were the few people who would think that the largest open television network in Brazil would broadcast the games of our women's team, in a way that companies would stop to watch it? Obviously, we are still far from fair, but we cannot deny that we have climbed one more step and being part of it is very gratifying", Luiz Miyamura, Director of Supply Chain Planning for Bayer's Crop Science division, and also leader of the All In Group.
“The broadcasting of the Women's Cup by a wide-range vehicle at Brazilians' homes demonstrates an important change and renewal of standards, especially given the disparity that has always existed between women's and men's soccer in Brazil and around the world. From the point of view of communication, the broadcasting brought a new look to our women's team, making room for broader discussions about the place of women in sports considered masculine, and even in other less busy spaces.”, says Claudia Machado, Bayer HR Communications Analyst.
Midfielder Joy Wu, who has been with the team since joining Bayer at the age of 21 and now works in government affairs, adds up “offering this type of activity is very important. It was really nice to meet other people from different sectors who have the same desire to wear the Bayer shirt. Another positive aspect is the possibility of developing teamwork. Playing soccer next to my work is a huge practicality. Also, it is great to encourage health care. The team also feels this fight for equal rights in football.”
Alexandre Bigai, responsible for the Bayer Club and, for many years also for the company's soccer team, is upbeat about it: “I believe that employees will be interested, especially because the Sindusfarma championships mobilize a lot of people in the company. I think the broadcast of the games will attract other contributors to attend the club and play soccer. As with the men's world championship, Bayer Club will be a broadcasting point for the games and we expect a lot of people to watch.”
From the point of view of the importance of diversity and how this needs to be a discussion always in focus, Aline Alves Felix, Inclusion and Diversity Consultant, stresses that “this great milestone in the history of Women's Soccer has only taken place because society is changing and the standards we had so far are being and will be increasingly questioned. And broadcasting the Women's Soccer Cup on an open channels is a proof that, as we revisit our standards and ask ourselves, “Why not…?” “What if…?”, big changes happen and benefit everyone. Fostering the Bayer Review was, of course, a way to celebrate and root for our Brazilian soccer team, but also a way of showing our employees that we can take advantage of different times to raise awareness about Inclusion and Diversity. I am very happy that, with this team work, we have been able to show that changes in favor of equity are not in vain.”