Back in July, Toronto-based Daniele Rocha Reis, a 10-year Vale employee, received an email with photo attachments – and it immediately got her attention. It was from Thompson-based Dayna Waring, manager, Operational Excellence, and the photos were of signage at our Manitoba Operations, some of which read: men working ahead, men working above, report to your foreman.
Language matters. It has the power to incite action, to bring people together or rip them apart, and in this case, to make them feel included and seen… or exactly the opposite. If the language on our signage speaks to just one gender, does it mean there is only one gender onsite? We know this is not the case.
Daniele, a senior Procurement Analyst and interim supervisor, sits on Vale’s Canada and U.K. Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Team (DIAT) and works with the VPS Committee to identify opportunities to neutralize language on site and work with suppliers who align with our Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) goals.
“When I saw the photos from Dayna I said, ‘Let’s go to the sign supplier, explain our concerns and bring the solution to them,” said Daniele, who did exactly that. “The supplier totally got it, she was thankful,” Daniele said. “She said, ‘This is amazing. You are my first customer to bring this to my attention. I’m going to start offering gender-neutral signage to all my customers.’”
For Daniele, a mechanical engineer who immigrated to Canada from Brazil to get her post-graduate degree in project management and “because Canadians are accepting of diverse cultures and in general very open-minded,” the supplier’s enthusiastic response was extremely validating.
In fact, it has fueled Daniele to approach other suppliers – four so far in Thompson and around five in Sudbury – and to take it one big step further: “We want our suppliers to be more inclusive in their workforce. We are on the way to build an inclusive environment at Vale, and our service providers should have the same inclusive mindset by mirroring our D&I goals.”
“Then, when we do the handover email with the signed agreement to our end users (Vale employees), we include our company D&I policy and reiterate Vale’s commitment to D & I and the importance of talking about it in their kick-off meetings.”
It makes sense: Company, supplier, end user. It’s an ecosystem, one party working in concert with the other. Evolve together or not at all.
“We still have a lot of work to do,” admitted Daniele. “Every direct employee or contractor contributes to the company’s success with their unique capabilities. The goal is to have a better workplace for everyone, creating mixed teams with different strengths and abilities where each person can develop their potential and feel comfortable.”15