Claudia Valentim, HR Business Partner at ERM, leads the ERM Foundation partnership with Força Meninas, a pioneering educational initiative for girls, aged 6 to 18, to unlock their potential, develop 21st century skills and empower them to create change in the world. Here, Claudia discusses how she became involved with the project, her highlights from this experience so far, and why she is so passionate about projects like this one.
When Antonio Martinez, Regional HR Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, approached me with the opening, “I think you are the right person to lead a project that may positively impact the life of many people, including yours”, I was excited to find out more. Having returned from maternity leave in 2021, I was seeking an experience which connected me to my own purpose in life, alongside my day-to-day work. Raising two children had made me reflect on the world that we are building for future generations and made me more empathetic to others’ needs - I wanted to have a meaningful impact and act to help others.
In that unexpected conversation, I was introduced to Deborah de Mari, the Founder of Força Meninas, and learnt how Christophe Murbach, ERM Account Director for Europe, the Middle East and Africa led the original connection to Força Meninas. Christophe had been coaching Deborah and other NGO founders in the context of the MIT Solve Challenge and as a result Força Meninas had started an initiative called “Go Girls: Rising up Together”.
I was told Christophe had said, “For many young girls in many countries, getting to know examples of successful women is a big step forward. Having the chance to get access to emblematic and successful women is even better.” Having been inspired by Deborah’s work and Christophe’s enthusiasm, I began leading the partnership between the ERM Foundation and Força Meninas from that moment.
© Força Meninas
I consider my role to be more of a facilitator for the project’s activities. It’s wonderful to have the opportunity to support such talented young girls in fostering their development and keeping them inspired to never give up. I’m incredibly grateful to be part of such an impactful project and enable opportunities for other ERM colleagues to get involved and share their expertise, provide mentoring, share practices, foster innovation and challenge our status quo as a company and as a society.
One particular highlight for me this year has been gathering a group of seven ERM volunteers to provide lectures to a group of young girls on topics that could be inspirational to many of them in their project developments. We also created the first course for girls who want to be climate changemakers. In total, we had five short educational videos about sustainability, and five related interviews with well-known female climate activists in Brazil. ERM is providing support for Força Meninas through enabling volunteers in Brazil to give their technical expertise with pro bono hours, and also financially supporting the organization to continue with the yearly Força Meninas’ prize. We have already directly impacted 830 girls through these activities.
Being part of the Força Meninas partnership has really reinforced to me that every single story is an infinite bunch of possibilities. Deborah is an incredibly unique and passionate person who wants to make a real difference in the world. She can see the huge difference these young girls are doing in their communities, implementing their projects with few or no financial incentives. It’s inspiring to see these young women demonstrate such innovation, entrepreneurship and accountability.
The ERM Foundation is a crucial part of making our jobs at ERM even more special and unique. Being able to volunteer in communities around us, working with organizations like Força Meninas, to provide pro bono support in this way really speaks to my personal purpose. I’m incredibly proud to be part of such an incredible team. I challenge and invite everyone reading to find out more about the ERM Foundation – let’s change the world for a better place!
Claudia Valentim is HR Business Partner based in Sao Paulo, Brazil. As part of her role, she ensures that strategic regional human resources goals are aligned with global policies and programs.