Driving gender equality

Mural project with McLaren Racing aiming to speed up awareness

When we expanded our long-running partnership with McLaren Racing in early 2022, we set out to explore new possibilities together in several areas, with sustainability among those jostling for pole position.

Keen to join forces and support McLaren Racing’s own sustainability journey, we soon identified a joint opportunity to raise awareness for gender equality. It’s something we both support very strongly, because motorsport and the paints and coatings industry are heavily male-dominated. And that clearly needs to change. Not easy, but the momentum is building.

So we hit on the idea of using our combined drive – and the power of paint – to send an inspirational message. A rousing reminder to women and young girls that they can be whoever they want to be. And a way of starting an important broader conversation around diversity and inclusion.

Every year, Latin America’s largest sustainability festival (Virada Sustentável) takes place, which presented us with a great chance to put an impactful project together ahead of the Brazilian F1 Grand Prix at Interlagos. 

The completed mural on the exterior of the community center in São Paulo

Having become experts at transforming drab building exteriors through our global “Let’s Colour” program, we looked for a suitable location near the race track in São Paulo. Before long, we’d secured an ideal location – a community center which serves as a vital hub for the local residents. We then found an amazing artist (Mari Pavanelli) to work with. In the week leading up to the race, she set about creating a stunning mural – using products from our Coral brand – with McLaren’s team colors included prominently in the design.

The project was then made all the more exciting when three female members of the McLaren Racing team stopped by to take a look, meet the artist and discuss the importance of the artwork’s role in promoting gender equality.

Director of Sustainability - Wijnand Bruinsma

Three female members of the McLaren Racing team went to see the mural a few days before the Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos.

“Mari’s mural will hopefully leave a positive legacy for girls and women in the community and also start a wider conversation across the globe,” said Kat Czekaj, Senior Specialist, Technology Partnerships, McLaren Racing. “We hope it inspires those who see it to be whoever they want to be.”

Added Lucy Holmes, Manager, Partnerships, McLaren Racing: “It was great to see the mural in person. It represents gender equality and the fact that there should be no barriers to participating in the world of motorsport, or in other careers which are not typically gender diverse.”

Another very special group of visitors – who also helped with the mural – came from our local Women in Color program. The vocational course is dedicated to empowering women to build careers in the decorative paints and vehicle refinishes industries, with 14 participants having already graduated.

Graduates from our Women in Color program dropped by to meet artist Mari Pavanelli and help out with painting the mural.

“It was fantastic to welcome the graduates and allow them to use their new-found skills on the mural,” said Silvana Martins Cestaro, who works in Commercial Marketing and Communications – South America, for AkzoNobel’s Automotive and Specialty Coatings business. “We’re thrilled to have worked with McLaren Racing on this amazing project and we truly hope the mural leaves a lasting legacy and sends an inspirational message to all those who see it.

“At AkzoNobel, we’re constantly looking for ways to create equal opportunities for career development. It’s something we're keen to drive forward a lot faster, so joining forces with McLaren will certainly help us to do that.”

Driving diversity

Read more about how we’re creating a diverse and inclusive workplace where people feel included, respected and fully engaged.

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