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Cássia Almeida: The cleaning industry allows us to keep up with the evolution

I was born in Belo Horizonte, capital of Minas Gerais, a region surrounded by mountains and bordering several states in Brazil. Some say that this combination makes us people with a more human and broad perspective, without seeing walls and borders, at the same time that we have a more inland way. So was my upbringing, my father was a businessman and my mother an artist.
My parents separated when I was 9 years old. With him I learned to seek what I want and believe in, to be authentic, not to give up, to take a stand.

With my mother I learned to look at the other, to respect, to listen and understand, to recognize my limit in relation to the other. Feeling, starting over, starting over, starting over... as many times as necessary. Doing what you can with what you have. In times of need distract us with stories, music, books and lots of love. The power of being a woman in her fragility and strength. With both the value of respect and affection, the value of presence, study, work... and so with so many differences I learned that we are all different, but we are human beings. My primary education was business administration. Throughout my career, I worked in companies of different sizes and segments, in different functions.

Following in my professional footsteps, my academic background is also different and supplementary: Graduate diploma in Human Rights, Social Responsibility and Global Citizenship | PUCRS - Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio Grande do Sul (2023) MBA in Service Excellence | Universidade Positivo (2016) Graduate diploma in Brand Management and Corporate Identity | PUCMG - Pontifícia Universidade Católica de Minas Gerais (2011) Specialization in Cultural Management | Fundação Clovis Salgado (2004) Graduate diploma in Computer Systems Analysis | FUMEC – Fundação Mineira de Educação e Cultura (1989) Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration | FUMEC - Fundação Mineira de Educação e Cultura (1986)

In my trajectory I also had the opportunity to live in different places with their different cultures. I lived on the island of Fernando de Noronha in the northeast of Brazil, in Paris in France, in Rio de Janeiro in the southeast of Brazil and currently in Curitiba in the south of Brazil.

All these combinations, even if contradictory, as well as my family background, gave me knowledge, experiences... breadth of vision and adaptability. Regardless of the place or work developed, some points were always present: relationship with people, institutional relationships, partnerships (walking together); mediation of interests, vision in business and looking at people.

In 2012 I joined the professional cleaning sector and that's when I also got to know the backstage of this sector and its much needed functions. Until this moment, I had never "looked" deeply into the profession, although I had always connected with people. For me, "good morning", "thank you" has always been common, that is, a relationship that should be normal between people.

I have many stories... I remember that once when I worked in a large company, I found a rose on my desk on my birthday, just the rose without any note. That's when the cleaning staff, discreetly, one by one, passed by me with a simple smile, so I knew that this rose was left by them. This moved me a lot. I understood that one of the reasons for receiving such a valuable gift is because I saw them, greeted them, talked... they were seen. Only when I was already in the sector did I realize the big difference in this treatment, something that until then, for me was commonplace.

In 2010 I was hospitalized for a long time (phew... it's gone!!). It is a unique and transformative experience. One of the facts that stood out to me was the presence of the cleaning lady. A very tall, strong woman with a delicacy in cleaning and a respect, a dignity in cleaning that room, that I had never seen before.

Returning to my time at FACOP

Reporting directly to the Institutional Board, I developed and implemented an institutional repositioning strategy, based on Brand Management, with an increase in products and services aligned with the institution's purpose and social responsibility, expanding the area of operation, service and partnerships, which generated greater social impact, awards and reinforcement of its reputation. With the positive results with the target audience, we also started to support social institutions with our products and services.

Always with an eye on people, I began to understand the sector and especially the profile of the people who work in it and the treatment received.

I understood that it was necessary to start from the value, esteem, respect and recognition of each one for himself. So assuming, what many call empowerment, but I prefer autonomy. The autonomy of being and performing, the basis of ethics, doing the right thing without the need for others to be looking.

And this is one of the “magic” of education, confidence in recognizing that one is capable.

There were several requests for new implementations in the courses and one of them referred to the attitudinal modules, after all, the cleaning professional is in all areas and is highly representative. The way in which she develops her work interferes with her personal brand, the brand of the company that hires her and also the brand of the company that hires this service and therefore where this professional effectively provides her service. In other words, it is a chain of brands and the performance of the cleaning professional, in addition to guaranteeing a suitable place for work, outings, etc., also represents the institutions in which it operates.

I've been an executive at FACOP for over 10 years. Period in which the institution and I developed and grew.

From my point of view and speech of recognition and appreciation of the cleaning professional combined with the business acumen, I participated in several events, in many of them as a speaker. As a speaker, I participated in national events, such as: Rio Innovation Week, Forum Infra, Higiexpo, and, internationally, Forum Pulire (Italy) and Iberoamericano (Colombia), among others.

I was a mentor and advisor at the School of Dignity – Academy for Cleaning Sciences/India (school created by Preyansi Mani), Advisor at the Uniabralimp Foundation. I am currently a senior advisor of the Paraná Council of Business Citizenship of the Federation of Industries (Conselho Paranaense de Cidadania Empresarial da Federação das Indústrias) and member of RIS (Network of Social Investors, or Rede de Investidores Sociais in Portuguese), a Third Sector Network, SDG working groups (Sustainable Development Goals) and Human Rights and Corporate Social Responsibility Groups. I am a management mentor for NGOs.

Constantly updating my knowledge, I discovered the lieu of open courses, combining courses in management and negotiation with SDG, ESG, humanitarian actions and “Person B,” further expanding my knowledge and view, with national and international certifications.

I am a volunteer with national and international experiences in India and Africa, also finding pleasure and wealth as a mentor and counselor in social institutions and humanitarian actions that enrich me, both personally and professionally.

I am a co-creator of the “Mulheres de Attitude” (Women with an Attitude) movement dedicated to training female leaders for the third sector and communities, where I also work as a teacher in the “communication/negotiation/mediation” module.

The cleaning industry allows us to keep up with the evolution of technology, processes and people. This triad, by the way, is the basis of the FACOP Cleaning Museum, a project that I manage.

Working with cleanliness means generating results from and for people. It is a sector eager for humanization, for everyone. However, it is important to highlight the female professionals who are responsible for around 70% of the posts, but as operational. It is still one of the sectors with the lowest rate of women in management or leadership positions (except operational ones).

The opportunity to be an ambassador at Womens in Cleaning is to add to the other ambassadors this humanized and valuable vision for cleaning women, providing access to information and opportunities for new learning and exchanges. And also, taking this value to men in the sector who still don't recognize this woman, this professional. And go further, also educating cleaning users. In my experience, I learned that the empowerment/autonomy generated by education requires an environment and people who recognize this professional and this knowledge.

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