According to an independent study, former Trafigura Foundation’s partner Arbusta helps to improve psychosocial skills that protect women against violence through training and job placement in the IT industry.
Can a formal employment opportunity reshape life trajectories and provide new horizons of hope? This is one of the questions that gave rise to the research "The first job as a way to reduce violence and discrimination: Arbusta’s case study", carried out by Espacio Público, an independent research centre in Chile, and whose results have recently been disclosed.
In 2020 and 2021, Espacio Público, with the support of FLACSO Costa Rica and Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC), led a study to identify the effects of getting a first job at an early age in a knowledge-based industry.
The research has been conducted among the women employed by Arbusta, a social enterprise specialised in IT services and youth empowerment. Arbusta has been a grantee of the Trafigura Foundation between 2018 and 2019. The partnership exemplifies the Foundation’s approach in funding innovative ventures that promote inclusion through employment.
With operations in Colombia, Argentina and Uruguay, Arbusta offers a first job to young people without previous formal work experience. Through a learning-by-working methodology, new joiners are trained to provide technology services to customers across Latin America and are offered a job within the social enterprise.
Currently, over 400 employees work for Arbusta: most of them are young millennials and centennials who come from fragile socioeconomic backgrounds. As a proof of Arbusta’s commitment to reduce the gender gap that dominates the technology industry, 60% of its workforce is composed of women.
Crucially, the research shows that women who have been working for Arbusta recognise their professional experience as significant and transformative beyond the scope of their employability: “thanks to the offer of a first job opportunity, most of Arbusta's female collaborators acquire technical expertise and develop psychosocial skills that, in turn, protect them against violence".
Forms of violence
When considering the effects of Arbusta on the lives of its female collaborators, the research focuses on three different types of violence that affect women: physical, structural and symbolic violence.
Physical violence against women is unfortunately a daily reality in all geographies. In the case of Arbusta's employees, the research has identified two major ways in which it is or was exercised. On one hand, members of the team have reported having suffered from sexual harassment on the street or in public spaces; on the other hand, they have claimed to have experienced situations of physical violence within their households. According to the study "approximately one in five female collaborators indicates having suffered from physical violence".
The research also addresses the violence that emerges as a result of the structural inequalities that exist in society and limit a group’s access to equal opportunities (structural violence).
The study reveales that these women "consistently report a lack of stable and formal job opportunities before joining Arbusta. This lack of opportunities is linked to aspects such as the fact that they are women, and, in many cases, in charge of taking care of family members. Other factors include the lack of higher education and/or prior work experience (which implies an evident vicious circle of social exclusion) and the stigma of living in an underprivileged neighbourhood".
Symbolic violence emerges as a consequence of structural violence and includes all those actions that lead to the generation of a system of thought that legitimizes social inequalities, making structural or direct violence invisible.
The life-changing impact of Arbusta
An important result highlighted in the study is Arbusta’s ability to break this circle of exclusion. Arbusta is a space for development and personal growth that allows its female collaborators to enhance specific skills as well as improve their expectations for the future, plan their career, broaden their educational horizons and challenge social mobility.
By creating a space for dialogue and personal growth, Arbusta stops the pattern of violence among which its female workers are trapped. It offers an opportunity regardless of their provenience, level of education or professional experience. It also teaches those technical and psychological skills that protect them against violence, such as emotional intelligence and management of human relations that they develop in tailored workshops at Arbusta.
Moreover, a corporate culture that supports women’s growth creates a work environment where female employees are comfortable in taking up leadership roles within their teams, shaping those skills that help them change their relation with themselves and their social circle.
While commenting the impact of the study’s results, Martina Deluchi, Human Capital Manager at Arbusta, says: "This research has highlighted new approaches for identifying and developing young talents in Latin America. Furthermore, it has allowed us to focus on our gender policies, which seek to increase the participation of women in the IT industry and generate the conditions to help each young woman reach her full potential".
This study is part of the Besieged Lives initiative coordinated by FLACSO Costa Rica with funding from IDRC.
Its main results are available here in Spanish.
To learn more about the partnership between the Trafigura Foundation and Arbusta click here.
If you want to discover Arbusta’s talent development model and services, contact firstname.lastname@example.org