Women in Finance: Strategy and opportunities in Brazil for 2022

women in finance

There are more women in senior financial roles now that it is recognized that they get good results and in response to incentives for diversity and the adoption of an ESG agenda by large companies.

But how can we expand the number of women working in different areas of companies and train a new generation of leaders to cope with the changes and difficulties of the world of business, while also supporting and developing existing and new generation teams.

Amidst all the complications posed by the end of the pandemic, with its serious impacts on the economy and traditional ways of working, plus the start of a war between Russia and Ukraine, the M&A Community brought together the financial chiefs of Ciena, E&Y, and Natura to discuss female leadership and the challenges and opportunities for financial planning and Boards of directors for 2022.

The event took place on 12 April 2022 and our speakers were:

Alessandra Segatelli, Director of Controllership at Natura & Co 

Stania Moraes, CFO of Ciena

Paula Tashima, Capital Markets Latin-America South Leader at Ernst & Young 

The first topic was the importance modern companies place on the adoption of ESG (Environment, Social and Governance) practices and the challenges of implementing them in the face of high costs and, often, the need to change the corporate culture.

Alessandra Segatelli said that for Natura's Board, one of the major concerns, now and always, is how to get good results while assuring sustainability. She asserted that despite the war in Europe and the economic recession generated by the pandemic, this goal is totally compatible with the adoption of ESG.

Stania Moraes reported that the companies in which she works are still focused on managing supply chain problems caused by the pandemic, with the impact on several sectors, especially telecommunications and automotive, expected to last for another 18-24 months. The upside of the current supply crisis, according to her, is that foreign investors have started to pay more attention to Latin America, with its wealth of natural and water resources, which allows the region to produce clean energy and supply essential raw materials to address sustainability issues in the medium and long term.

Paula Tashima highlighted that the financial arena is still very male, but women have been bringing a new look in terms of innovation, hospitality, and sustainability. “Everyone talks about ESG, but many people don't know what it really means. ESG is about companies’ obligations towards society and the future. It is something that we should all pay attention to on a day-to-day basis,” said Paula.

Stania added that leaders must have commitment and set an example so that Boards can see what they do and realize that it is possible to implement good ESG practices. “Nowadays, we can finally be ourselves in leadership roles and this gives us the opportunity to help put ESG on the agenda for real. To do this we have to keep learning, widening our horizons, and keeping up to date. Governance, for example, is a constant challenge and requires better knowledge of what happens here and abroad. We also need good mentors, people who can guide others and help them to improve their skills”, explained the Ciena executive.

The adoption of ESG policies by national companies has been evolving year by year and companies have dedicated a lot of time and attention to improving their practices, mainly related to sustainability, with actions to reduce carbon emissions, save and reuse water, and energy use. They have also considered governance, with strict compliance rules.

“It is interesting to note that 10 years ago, no one knew how to implement a good governance system and the costs were extremely high. Today, most companies already have good practices as part of their culture. Now the focus is on sustainability and many are looking for ways to better measure results. However, in Brazil, a fundamental issue to be addressed is the social one, which requires more investment and effort”, explains Stania. The problem is that not all companies have enough capital to invest in the social area. “I think that one good way for a company to start is by expanding the diversity of its staff, offering equal opportunities and benefits”, added Alessandra.

For the participants, another point to address is how to improve the quality and depth of the data collected and presented to shareholders and society. “Brazilian publicly traded companies are very advanced in producing really consistent ESG reports. But many companies still can’t publish such documents due to the very high costs and, above all, the difficulty of making good social, sustainable and governance practices a real part of their culture”, as Alessandra warns.

Female leadership

During the conversation, the speakers drew attention to the fact that women are still under-represented, despite there being more women employed, and they believe that leaders in the sector have a major role to play in increasing female participation in the coming years, especially in management and strategic leadership positions.

“A recent McKinsey report on the future of work pointed to a talent shortage and impacts on mental health – with high levels of anxiety and burnout – and found that women cope better in a tough environment, supporting their teams and other leaders because they have a more holistic view of well-being. This reinforces the importance of companies continuing to invest in diversity and for us, as leaders, to pursue the wider involvement of women”, commented Alessandra.

Stania claimed that having women in charge of finances increases companies' profits, that diversity is good for results. However, at the moment women account for only 14% of directors on company Boards, an increase of 3% compared to 2020,  a tiny gain that only emphasizes the need for more diversity.

“I work on the Furnas board, on which there are seven directors - three of them women - and I realize that it is a key platform to demonstrate the effectiveness of our presence in these organizations", said Stania, arguing that this proves that companies are more committed to diversity. However, women in finance only make up 15% of the total workforce and there is still a need for greater empowerment to ensure that more women join, and go on to management roles.

One way of increasing the number of women in different areas is to set diversity quotas. “But a quota for women is just one of the ways to enter the market, it cannot be the only one. We aim to guarantee diversity within our team and root this issue in the company culture”, stresses Alessandra.

One curious aspect of this situation is that another recent survey by E&Y shows that companies with Boards that are at least 30% women, increase their gross margins by up to 15%. In other words, investing in diversity is good business for companies in all sectors, with proven positive impacts on their financial statements. As Rachel Maia says, “diversity is inviting people to a party and inclusion is asking them to dance.” “For this reason, we must undertake more initiatives that bring women into management”, commented Stania.

For Paula, the mission of leaders is to develop new female talent and give them support throughout their careers. This means offering equal opportunities to people of all races and genders, fostering diversity in companies, and always keeping in mind that the objective is good business results.

Ciena, for example, is developing an incentive program with schools in different communities to inform high school students about career opportunities in the fields of engineering, technology, and telecommunications. “The idea is to form a community base, with a long-term project to encourage the training of new professionals”, said Stania. It is a relevant initiative because girls need more female role models in different careers so that they can see more opportunities for them, and more examples of leaders in companies of all sectors.

The speakers also argued that companies need to identify women with leadership potential and help them develop soft skills – useful characteristics for good management, such as knowing how to deal with emotions in day to day business, having the flexibility to cope with constant changes, knowing how to manage your own time and your teams’, as well as being able to communicate with different professionals and with the market. “The market already knows that women are good executives and executors. The problem is that we are still rarely seen as leaders and being a leader requires other skills. The good news is that the market can be taught, and we, at E&Y, for example, already have a specific program and we are doing this, as are other companies”, said Paula.

The key thing is to encourage professionals to create and maintain good networks, having repeated contact with people to exchange knowledge and experiences, as well as to help them build and consolidate a good reputation in the market. “Network means knowing how to relate to people both inside and outside the company, who we can and must listen to before making decisions, people who are capable of evaluating the most varied and complex situations and advising us. We must have the courage to seek out mentors, because taking risks and accepting challenges is part of the journey, and it is easier when you have support”, emphasized Alessandra.

Another area that ambitious women need to work on is how to share knowledge and delegate efficiently. “You need to know how to delegate, but delegate in an effective way. Only those who are “hands-on” can do this. However, you have to be careful, because when a woman is too good at what she does, the company may decide to keep her in a certain position because they find it difficult to replace her. My advice is to form your teams and show that other people on the team are capable of doing the same or better than you to make your advancement possible. Don’t be too attached to functions, be more strategic and grow”, said Paula. It is essential to know how to balance operational and strategic views.

The speakers were unanimous on the need for sisterhood, with women supporting each other and encouraging each other to grow. In other words, stimulating investment in education and continuing development, inspiring young women, at the start of their careers, to seek promotion to the most senior roles. “Fortunately, today there are groups of women across various university departments who organize themselves to exchange ideas and help each other and this is very beneficial for the corporate market as a whole. Women should participate more in innovation, leadership, and entrepreneurship forums and committees,” said Paula.

Another initiative discussed at the event was the creation a few years ago of the W-CFO, which aims to develop finance professionals and promote the exchange of ideas through mentoring, based on proprietary methodologies. “In W-CFO mentoring, we try to meet the needs of the woman who wants to lead with a mentor who has already lived the situation or works in a similar area, so that the process is more effective”, explained Alessandra. Joining the W-CFO is easy – you just fill out a form on the website (https://wcfobrazil.com.br/), which is then marked against the institution’s criteria.

Other Insights

See More
M&A

Mergers & Acquisitions and Antitrust Economy: Economic Synergies and Efficiency

One of the most relevant topics in corporate finance is the role of synergies in operations of mergers and acquisitions (M&A’s)....

See More
M&A
M&A

China M&A Trends Report FY 2021

Brought to you by the M&A Community in association with Mergermarket. Another record-breaking year should be cause for great optimism but a...

See More
Iberia mna
M&A

Iberia M&A Trends Report FY 2021

Brought to you by the M&A Community in association with MergerMarket.  Industrials and chemicals lead the way in a post-Covid surge...

See More
LATAM M&A
M&A

LatAm M&A Trends Report FY 2021

Brought to you by the M&A Community in association with MergerMarket.  The devastating impact of Covid-19 was succeeded by a...

See More
Dach M&A
M&A

DACH M&A Trends Report FY 2021

Brought to you by the M&A Community in association with Mergermarket.  Europe’s model region is still enjoying a post-Covid boom, with...

See More
USA
china usa
M&A

How the Rise of China changes the M&A Game

While the M&A landscape has experienced significant short-term changes because of the COVID-19 pandemic, investors are very conscious that...

See More
Chile
Brazil China
M&A

Investment Opportunities And Successful Cases Between China And Latin America

Relations between China and Latin America have strengthened in recent years, with the COVID-19 pandemic as a turning point. Nearly $75 billion...

See More
Brazil
clean energy
Energy

According to an expert, clean energy is Brazil’s ace in the quest for foreign investments

Although we are going through challenging times with the water crisis and political and economic uncertainties, the Brazilian energy industry is...

See More
Brazil
M&A Community
Energy

Energy Investment Projections In Brazil

At an event organised by the M&A Community, participants emphasise that the water crisis and the political context are challenges, but they...

See More
Dach
M&A

DACH M&A Trends Report H1 2021

Brought to you by the M&A Community in association with Mergermarket.  Real estate, pharma, industrial and chemicals and technology...

See More
Latam
M&A

LatAm M&A Trends Report H1 2021

Brought to you by the M&A Community in association with Mergermarket.  Led by the financial services sector and big deals in energy...

See More
Iberia
M&A

Iberia M&A Trends Report H1 2021

Brought to you by the M&A Community in association with Mergermarket.  Rapidly expanding opportunities in energy, especially...

See More
China
M&A

China & Hong Kong M&A Trends Report H1 2021

Brought to you by the M&A Community in association with Mergermarket.  As both economies bounce back from Covid-19, infrastructure and...

See More
Brazil
IPO

Prospects for the M&A and IPO market in Brazil

Despite two very challenging years for the Brazilian economy and population, due to the consequences left by the COVID-19 pandemic, the M&A...

See More
USA
digital-USD
Digital currency

Webinar: Are Digital Currencies Disrupting Global Markets? Risks, Opportunities, And Outlook

Cryptocurrencies, once viewed as the province of nerds and dodgy financial transactions, are now becoming mainstream. More countries around the...

See More
Mexico
IPO
M&A

M&A Latam, Facts, Trends, & Insights For 2021

M&A activity is fast recovering from the impact of Covid-19 all round the world. This is especially evident in Latin America (LATAM) where,...

See More
USA
digital assets
Digital assets

Acquisition and Integration of Digital Assets

In the last 15 years more than 52% of US listed companies have disappeared, and while the average life of such a company in 1955 was 61 years,...

See More
Portugal
green energy
Energy

The Ins and Outs of Becoming a Player in Portugal’s Green Energy Market

Portugal has seen a rapid expansion of investment in renewable energy in recent years, especially in solar PV. There has been considerable...

See More
Brazil
spain
Infrastructure

Infrastructure Insiders Discuss Opportunities and Bottlenecks

Cleverson Aroeira (BNDES), Venilton Tadini (ABDIB), Elias de Souza (Deloitte) and Thiago Costa Monteiro Caldeira (PPI) untangled the sector and...

See More
Russia
M&A Agriculture
Agriculture

What’s Happening in the Agribusiness in Russia? An M&A Point of View

Crop production seems to be the most lucrative segment in Russian agriculture as the demand is substantially higher than the supply.

See More
USA
Health Tech M&A
Healthcare

Telemedicine is Changing the Healthcare Landscape: Expert Outlook 2021

With several new coronavirus strains circulating, it is hardly likely that the healthcare industry will soon escape from this period of...

See More
USA
M&A AI Tech
Tech

M&As in the AI Market: Tech and Deals Explained

The artificial intelligence (AI) industry survived its ‘winter’, in terms of limited hardware capacities, some time ago. Now, this sector seems...

See More
USA
Bruce Molloy
Tech

AI Industry: What Any Business Leader Should Know

Business leaders can understand what AI can do in straightforward ways, including the opportunities it creates, the problems it solves, and the...

See More
USA
Healthcare

The Post-pandemic Health Industry: Tech Is Poised to Play a Much Bigger Role

The next normal presents itself with emerging opportunities, challenges, and new health tech use cases in the US, and globally.

See More
Brazil
Sao Paulo, Brazil
M&A

Experts Show Optimism for the M&A Market in Brazil in 2021

Economic recovery in a Brazilian context will involve greater liquidity and an enormous structural change.

See More
Brazil
The National Congress of Brazil
M&A

The LGPD to Attract More Foreign Investment to Brazil

With the LGPD, the business environment will have more clarity about the regulations to be made a clearer perspective for foreign investors.

See More
New Normal
M&A

M&A: Getting Used to the ‘New Normal’ 

Political and geopolitical tensions worldwide may also hint at the events we might see in the nearest future. What are the main currents in the...

See More
Portugal
Oporto, Portugal
M&A

M&A in the North of Portugal: Tough Situation, Plenty of Opportunities

The outlook of the mergers and acquisitions landscape in the north of Portugal.

See More
Reva Goujon
M&A

‘Strategic Scenario Planning’: Reva Goujon — about resilient M&A Approach, US-China Rivalry, and Cyber Influence Ops 

How to design smart and resilient M&A strategies amidst global uncertainties?

See More
USA
Crossroads
M&A

Global Business Climate, Geopolitics, and M&A: Where we are at now 

Everyone, from small firms to large corporations, has to adapt to the new realities and find new ways to stay afloat.

See More
USA
Tech

‘AI Hype’ and M&A: Artificial Intelligence Strategies and Putting a Value on a Deal

How AI technologies can create value for different industries, and what to consider during any AI-related M&A transaction.

See More
Ignacio Tornero
M&A

China Goes Overseas: The Successes and Challenges of PRC in Latin America. An Interview with Ignacio Tornero

Digging deeper into the Chinese expansion in Latin America.

See More
USA
Tech

Tech, M&As and their Future: Reality and Expectations

From the valuation of AI assets to IoT, blockchain, and ESG (Environmental and Social Governance) in business.

See More
Portugal
Porto, Portugal
Legal

Legal Frameworks for Turbulent Times: Cases of Distressed Investments in Portugal

Are there ways to prevent the wave of insolvencies expected in 2021?

See More
USA
M&A

Geopolitics and M&A: Power Play in the Turbulent World. An Interview with Klisman Murati

How do geopolitics define the long-term strategies of states, and impact the economic actors?

See More
Portugal
M&A

Distressed Investments in Portugal: An Economic and Legal Outlook

The number of insolvencies in Portugal is rising and businesses are facing uncertainty in terms of future financing.

See More
USA
Hong Kong harbor
M&A

China’s Gordian Knot of Geopolitics: Regional Expansion or Global Ambitions?

Though Beijing is being careful with international politics, in an economic scene it is more active.

See More
USA
Investment

The US vs. China: How their Geopolitical Game is Affecting M&As

Beijing remains cautious in terms of restrictive measures against the US in response.

See More
Australia
M&A

Four Human Capital Factors to Consider during an M&A Deal

Without the proper management of human resources, the majority of M&A deals are bound to fail.

See More
Australia
M&A

Extracting Commercial Benefit from Data: Lessons for M&As

Data can be applied and bring value at various stages of the M&A process.

See More
Brazil
Legal

LGPD in Brazil: How the New Data Protection Law is impacting Businesses and Deals

Here are some useful hints and recommendations by experts in the field

See More
China
Investment

M&A Regulatory Updates in China and Abroad 

How can tightening regulations impact the M&A situation in the Asia-Pacific region?

See More
M&A

Global M&A: Is a Recovery in Sight?

The full impact of the coronavirus crisis has manifested itself in Q2 2020. Here’s a brief overview of the global M&A situation in Q&A.

See More
China
M&A

Trends That Are Defining Cross-Border M&A in China

The global M&A market is showing a strong decline: it has more than halved to $0.9T in the first half of 2020.

See More
USA
Investment

Paradigm Shift in Impact Investing: Trends to Influence Businesses in a Post-Pandemic World

While the world is living through turbulent times, businesses and investors cannot stand aside unaffected. To dive deep into the issues of...

See More
China
Energy

Global Energy Investments and M&A: A Quick Guide

The chaos this year on the oil market seems to have echoed into other energy sectors, leaving investors in a state of uncertainty. However, this...

See More
China
Energy

Investment Opportunities and Risks in the Global Energy Industry

2020 looks like being the biggest black swan event since WWII. The global pandemic has affected the mentality of investors all over the world....

See More
China
legal service
Legal

The Role of Legal Service Providers in Cross-Border M&A

In recent years, an increasing number of Chinese companies are seeking international expansion in response to the nation’s “Go Global” campaign....

See More
China
business mna
M&A

How to improve bid success rate in cross-border M&A

Initiated by iDeals and co-organized by several key players in the cross-border M&A industry such as KPMG, Eurasian, and GORG, the China-EU...

See More
China
mna community
Investment

M&A Community In-depth Interview: The Three Key Questions in China-EU M&A

Recently, iDeals hosted the M&A Community: China-EU Cross-border Best Practice Sharing event in Shanghai.

Speakers of this event

See More
Brazil
finance

Alessandra Segatelli

Director of Controllership at Natura & Co
See More
Brazil
brazil

Stania Moraes

CFO of Ciena
See More
Brazil
finance

Paula Tashima

Capital Markets Latin-America South Leader at EY
See More
Brazil
Glaucia Piccolo

Glaucia Piccolo

CFO at Microsoft

Upcoming Events

Get In Touch

Our team is happy to answer your questions. Fill out this form and we will get in touch with you.