Luiza Trajano Speaks on Inclusivity, Prosperity, and Success in Business in Brazil
On November 3, the Georgetown Americas Institute hosted Luiza Trajano, chairwoman of retail giant Magazine Luiza, for a discussion on lessons learned as a successful businesswoman committed to inclusion and common prosperity in Brazil.
Luiza Trajano’s inspiring trajectory of building a retail industry powerhouse is inseparable from the work she has done to empower women and minorities in Brazil. At the November 3 event hosted by GAI, Trajano spoke about her life and how she built her company into an impactful enterprise where each of its 1,400 employees participate in a culture of inclusion.
“Why can’t a company be happy and grow at the same time? Why do they have to be mutually exclusive?” –Luiza Trajano
Communication Is What Others Understand
According to Trajano, open and inclusive communication is crucial to her company’s success. She works to ensure that every worker knows their diverse opinions and backgrounds enhance the company’s impact, both internally and externally.
Because of these inclusive work policies, Magazine Luiza is considered one of the best places to work in Brazil, particularly for women. Instead of creating endless guidelines and documents explaining corporate culture, her approach is to create the conditions in which inclusivity is embraced organically.
“Companies need to have a transformative purpose other than just seeking profit.” –Luiza Trajano
Her commitment to inclusivity influences Trajano’s politics and her perception of the future of Brazil’s democracy. Despite increased political polarization, she believes that open dialogue is the only viable path to reduce the country’s entrenched inequality. Trajano pointed to her team’s work to get COVID-19 vaccines into Brazil — at a time when the federal government’s response remained lethargic — as an example of her philosophy that it’s better to push forward with action than to engage critics of programs to reduce poverty.
Diversity in Business
Magazine Luiza represents Brazil’s kaleidoscope of backgrounds. Trajano has made the company a national leader in workplace diversity, particularly for women and people of color, through internal quotas.
“Diversity quotas are very important for me because they help correct inequalities. But now things are changing so much that soon we will need quotas for men!” –Luiza Trajano
Creating a culture of inclusion has led the company to offer resources such as a gender violence hotline, much-needed support in a society that is reckoning with entrenched gender-based violence against women. Trajano is also chair of Grupo Mulheres do Brasil, which works to empower the country’s women.
Magazine Luiza recently launched its first trainee program exclusively open to young Afro-descendants, which is designed to help empower one of Brazil’s most marginalized communities. Although the initiative has received some criticism, a consequence of the country’s increasing polarization, the program has continued successfully.
“The results of this initiative make me hopeful for a more just and inclusive future.” –Luiza Trajano
The event was moderated by the GAI’s managing director, Denisse Yanovich, with introductory remarks given by School of Foreign Service adjunct professor Elcior Santana.
Dr. Elcior Santana gives the introductory address.
Well-known Brazilian businesswoman Luiza Trajano shares some life lessons with the audience.
An audience member asks Trajano about her COVID-19 vaccination clinics.
Luiza Trajano shares a short film about her new training program for Afro-Brazilians.