Location: Sao Paolo, Brazil
When Tlaca Benavides began working at Dow Chemical (No. 48) in Mexico City, he didn’t tell his coworkers he was gay. But when Benavides’s supervisor offered him a move and a promotion in 2012—suggesting that, as a single man, he was well-positioned to relocate— Benavides decided he needed to come out and explain he was in a serious relationship with a man. “I had been hiding it for three years and I felt so pressured,” the marketing manager says. His boss’ response was hardly the one he had feared: “His reaction was, ‘I’m pleased to know you have someone in your life,’ and I was so relieved.”
Though Dow had several employee chapters of GLAD (Gay, Lesbians and Allies at Dow), across North America and Europe, the group hadn’t gained traction in the chemical company’s Latin America offices. Hoping to prevent his colleagues from suffering the same anxiety over their sexual orientation, Benavides launched Dow’s GLAD network in Latin America in 2012, and later, when he moved to Sao Paolo with his partner, he founded a chapter there. Membership in the group has grown from five Dow employees to 230 across the region. Benavides is also working with other multinational corporations to raise LGBT awareness and acceptance in Latin America, and it was his efforts that in 2014 led Dow to host more than 200 representatives from companies including Google and General Electric in Sao Paolo to discuss advancing LGBT rights in the workplace.