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Rachel Maia: “You don’t need to value me, just give me the opportunity and I’ll show you what I’m all about”

“Does my voice have strength? When I am asked this question, I repeat it out loud to myself. Sometimes I want to be sure.” Certainly, there is no doubt as soon as we meet Rachel de Oliveira Maia, Rachel Maia.

She carries strength in her presence of someone who dominates the space she is in and has a commanding voice. Something we noticed, right in the first minute of the interview, as soon as she – intentionally – defined where we would record: in a reading space surrounded by books by black women writers.

“It is essential to encourage women, especially black women, who are always at the bottom of the pyramid. So, if you look behind me, you will see several books by black women who, many times, go unnoticed and we cannot let that happen. Our Brazil is full of black women, with powerful voices, who write their stories or write the stories of their ecosystem.”, says Rachel Maia, CEO of RM Consulting.

That look of empathy for others comes from home.

“My base is what I bring the strongest. My mother always looked out for others, she helped others. We have to do this regardless of the position we occupy because position is a present moment that does not define us in life.”, highlights the daughter of Dona Preta and Seu Antônio – her greatest mentors in life –, who grew up in the Jordanopolis neighborhood, in the Grajaú region, extreme south of the outskirts of São Paulo.

“My relationship with my home is the most precious thing I have. It’s where, when the balance is half out of balance, I try to get back to my axis.”, reveals Rachel Maia, who also has in God one of her greatest allies (she was a catechist for over 23 years).

“Quelzinha” – the affectionate name she receives from her relatives – had education as the driving force in her life.

“Luck, by itself, is nothing. I had the foresight to understand the opportunities that passed in front of me and I seized them. Give me opportunity and help me generate opportunity for the ecosystem where I live and where I am. This is how I believe we are going to turn the page”, says the founder of Instituto Capacita-me.

Opportunities that took her to chair number 1 – Rachel Maia was CEO of large companies in the luxury segment, representing the still low number of black CEOs in the country (less than 1%).

“My path to seat number one was more ‘no’ than ‘yes’. It was more meetings with men, where my idea was repeated by men who were sitting next to me and was applauded by them, while my voice was not heard”, says Rachel Maia.

“That way, I learned to understand what would be the exact moment to make my voice heard. So I always had the need to be alert at all times.”

A powerful voice in the business world, Rachel Maia is today the founder of the Capacita-me Institute, focused on training and developing people from the periphery into jobs.

“We want to empower and restore people’s dignity, empower and make people buy their own groceries, empower and make sure they can go out with their children and simply provide a benefit, entertainment.”

Besides being an important person in the world businessMaia has been very dedicated to boosting and empowering women (especially black women) to also reach leadership positions.

“We don’t want the rest anymore, we also want the best. We also want to be well paid, the best places in leadership, be in the best universities, compete for the best vacancies. For this, it is necessary to open the best vacancies for us in an equitable way. In a propositional way. For that, we have to be within the indices. That’s what black women deserve.”

Diversity, inclusion and multiplicity are three words that bring purpose to Rachel Maia’s life and that she always carries in her speeches.

“Diversity for me is not the accumulation of black bodies. When we bring inclusion, we have to generate belonging and this has to be conscious. Today, we cannot only value results. Today it is results and people.”

And for that to happen, Rachel Maia believes too much in the strength of allies. “I believe in the strength of allies, so much so that I believe that I have many white allies around me. Today, they are the ones sitting, for the most part, in the leadership chairs. So if they don’t support us in making room for more diversity, they will continue to be the only ones sitting in those chairs.”

An executive woman, counselor and mother of Sara Maria (11 years old) and Pedro Antonio (3 years old), Rachel Maia says that she has a very challenging schedule, which she carries through without any fault in relation to her motherhood.

“Sometimes I manage to give 5% of my day, it’s part of it. Sometimes I arrive, they are sleeping, it’s part of it. Sometimes I give them a good time on the weekend, it’s part of it. Look, I stopped blaming myself. I want to leave a legacy for my children that their mother loved them unconditionally. My way.”

A way that she herself defines very well: “I think I’m a worker, man. I am the result of a whole day’s work.”

Source: CNN Brasil

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