“I come to tell the narratives of black, peripheral, trans and transvestite people”

Ökram Niodara, senior DHO analyst at iFood, tells how participating in the company's diversity group helped her discover herself as a trans woman.

As a child, Ökram Niodara (or rather, Dara) felt very uncomfortable. “I was born in Itaquera, grew up in the east zone of São Paulo, was raised in Santo André, in ABC Paulista, by my mother and I couldn't accept seeing that we were going through situations of hunger and violence”, he recalls. “That wasn’t right for me, I wanted to change that narrative.”

As she grew up, she noticed that others were also uncomfortable — with her presence. “Being anywhere, for me, was a way of making provocations like 'where are the other black people in this space? Am I the only one who came from the outskirts, the only gay person?” says Dara. 

At that time, she thought of a phrase: “I don’t want to be another black person who will spend my life blank”. But how to change this story? For Dara, the answer was to find her difference. “I come from a family of mother, aunts and grandmother who know everyone and like to talk. So since I was little I have always communicated well. I’ve always really enjoyed interacting and working with people.” 

His first jobs were in sales, where he needed to have arguments on the tip of his tongue to do well. Later, she decided to study Human Resources Management to better understand the complexity of dealing with people. 

But she felt that, when she wanted to be heard in companies, her comments were generally not welcome. “I was not seen as someone who could make a contribution to making that organization more humanized”, she recalls. 

The changing narrative

In 2018, Dara started working in front of iFood, in Osasco (SP) and also living in the city and decided to apply for a position at the company. She wasn't called at first, but they liked her profile, and three months later she received an offer to work in customer service. 

“I was really happy,” he says. “I came from super traditional companies and found a different world, where freedom, autonomy and listening really exist. From then on, I can say that a new narrative began in my life.”

The first step in this change has to do with professional development. For the first time, leaders helped her structure a career plan and think about her professional development. “I never had that even in my family. Here, I was welcomed to understand the path I could follow”, says Dara, who is now a senior DHO (Human and Organizational Development) analyst at iFood.

As soon as she joined the company, she sought to get involved with the Pólen committees, which discuss topics related to underrepresented groups in society. His first choice was to connect with the black movement group. “I had never talked about these issues with other people. In mentoring for black people, we talk about race and ancestry. I connected with my race like I never had before.”

These new conversations encouraged Dara to explore her identity, to look in the mirror and ask herself who she was and what she represented. It was then that she decided to participate in the LGBTQIAP+ committee, where she became leader.

“At that time I understood myself as cis. When I started to connect with these people, several questions about my identity began to arise”, he recalls. “It was on iFood that I recently discovered myself as a trans and transvestite person. This space of dialogue, of freedom, encouraged me to connect with myself.”

Transition time

She says she decided to take advantage of the 2022 holidays to continue with her transition. “When I returned, my leadership fully supported me in this process of self-discovery and helped me share this with others. It gave me a feeling of welcome, respect and encouragement to connect with myself. This is inclusion.”

At 31, she says that, for the first time in her life, she feels complete happiness. “When I look in the mirror, I see that this is Dara, who has been hidden for so long. I see myself professionally as much more confident, capable, without fear of making mistakes, as a person who is a powerhouse.”

Today, Dara wants her presence to continue causing discomfort, but constructively. “The identities that I represent today, being a black, peripheral and transvestite person, are not common for the places I occupy. There are many more people like me waiting for an opportunity to be in these spaces. The advances cannot be mine alone, this needs to be a collective movement, otherwise we won’t actually change reality.”

Therefore, her big dream is that more people can also look in the mirror and feel the same fulfillment as her. “For the first time I was very proud to present myself as I really am. It was only here that I realized that my characteristics would not harm me professionally. I don’t have to wear a mask to be a good professional.”

She believes that her trajectory may even be singular, but it can be combined in the plural. “The narratives I come to tell are not just Dara’s. They are also the narratives of other black, peripheral, trans and transvestite people. From black people who face racism in the market, who do not occupy leadership positions, from trans and transvestite people who are not in organizations, from the struggle LGBTQIAP+, which doesn’t just talk about love, but about our right to exist.”

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