Synergia has always invested in projects that bring both the concepts and practices of empathy, equity and representativeness to its employees. However, in 2020, a fieldwork incident involving a staff member in one of the assisted communities triggered a very important work for the company: the Human Rights Journey.
The episode showed that, although we had very strong values and principles in line with the Declaration of Human Rights, we should bring these concepts more consistently to the teams’ day-to-day activities, so that they become firmly established in our employees’ culture in a practical, natural, and permanent way.
The idea was to bring a solution that, in addition to addressing the specific problem identified, could be expanded, becoming common to all Synergia projects and strengthening the company’s integrity values. Thus, considering the actions that were already being carried out in relation to diversity and inclusion, the opportunity arose to carry out a project based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).
The Declaration was adopted and proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948. It establishes, in the form of articles, the universal protection of human rights. In other words, the UDHR sets out the basic rights that should be guaranteed to everyone, including freedom, equality, and justice.
Synergia’s Human Rights Journey should, therefore, expose these rights to the company’s employees, raising debates and exchanging experiences based on the understanding of these articles and their importance in the lives of people all over the world.
Renata Guirelli, coordinator of the Organizational Human Development (OHD) sector at Synergia, explains the development of the work:
In this way, the Human Rights Journey constituted a work of about 4 months, from February to June 2021, in online meetings held every 15 days, in which all the articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights were addressed. The meetings, led by psychologist Lucia Frigerio, relied on participative methodologies and open spaces for dialogue.
At each meeting, four articles from the UDHR were discussed. One or two facilitators – volunteer collaborators who already had expertise in mediation and communication with the community – led subgroups, where each of these articles was debated in depth, making connections with the way they applied to daily work, relationships, and people’s everyday lives. After these discussions, the subgroups presented their ideas and reflections to the other groups and the meetings were concluded.
For Lucia Frigerio, the relationship between the facilitators and the participants of the Journey was a “fantastic process to follow” and important to help in the positioning and recognition of everyone:
“We brought in testimonials and asked people who had some testimonial to give to illustrate the discussion, so that it would be a living, dynamic thing. The facilitators were extremely involved, were recognized by the group, and became a reference, even to the point of seeking them out to relate something that people had experienced in the period before they worked at Synergia. I remember one person who came to one of the facilitators to say, ‘Look, after this meeting, I was thinking and I was sure that in my last job my rights were violated. Can you check it out with me? Let me tell you what I went through?'”
More than just offering knowledge about the Declaration, the purpose of the Journey was to promote awareness about human rights in practice, and to demonstrate that many actions in our daily lives can violate these rights, or could collaborate so that they are not violated.
For Lucia Frigerio, this awareness of rights, and how they apply in everyday life, was the most important part of ensuring a positive impact on their work and especially in their lives:
“People know that Human Rights exist, but many don’t know how it applies. Everything that is in the Declaration is possible, it contemplates everything. The richness is to be able to see it applied, to see that it is not utopian. I think that, first, we have to realize that we cannot lose the power of indignation and that, for this, we have to be alert. We have to be with all our senses at the service of what we are living, because otherwise we are capable of seeing a violation next to us and not realizing it. I think that the exchanges were very useful for this, it was a space for dialogue that made us aware of things that were trivialized. And I realize that it is making us multipliers of this.”
The Human Rights Journey encouraged Synergia to promote changes to give greater visibility to its principles and values, adopting a methodology that facilitates access and knowledge of the company’s practices, both internal and external, which are essential for the construction of an environment that effectively follows the proposal of the Declaration of Human Rights.
Therefore, among the results achieved by the Journey, in addition to the training of employees, are the revision of the Code of Ethics – and the launch of a new version of it – and the creation of an independent Reporting Channel, with the possibility of anonymous reporting, in addition to the creation of an Ethics Committee. Synergia understood that the awareness work needs to be constant, and that the methods for this must be under constant review and evolution. Thus, new Journeys will be held by the company, ensuring the permanent discussion on human rights in the day-to-day work.
Location: Minas Gerais
Scope: On average, 50 Synergia employees participated in the meetings, which had the involvement of 12 facilitators in the mediation of the dialogues. 15 hours, divided into 10 weekly meetings, were dedicated to the reading and discussion of the 30 articles of the UDHR.
Goal: To qualify all employees to conduct themselves with integrity, based on human rights principles, in all their interactions - whether they are work, interpersonal, and/or social relationships.
Results: Project collaborators trained on the principles of human rights; consolidation of a space for dialogue on the theme; multipliers/trainers within the concepts and behaviors; creation of the Reporting Channel, the Ethics Committee, and revision of the Code of Ethics.
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