Kuvaaja
Helena Hagberg
Kirjoittaja
Sara Salomaa, Translation: Apropos Lingua

“I don’t know any M. Sc. in Technology who is Romany"

In work life, diversity must be understood in a broad sense. All minorities must be seen and their needs taken into account. Work life must be open to us all, says TEK’s Sirkku Pohja.

A person’s skin colour, name or language skills may hinder their job prospects in Finland. To solve this problem, the Finnish government has initiated a working life diversity program that will be in effect until March 2023.

TEK’s Work Life Specialist Sirkku Pohja welcomes the fact that the promotion of diversity is actively highlighted. Pohja thinks this work takes society forwards. It requires the will to act.

– It is a question of both values and benefits to the organisation. Do we want everyone to feel welcome in Finnish work life? Studies have demonstrated that diverse work communities, i.e., groups that include people different from each other, produce better results. Inclusivity is sure to be an even more significant pull factor in the future. 

I hope that organisations understand how diversity can increase the value of the workplace in the eyes of potential employees.

Pohja emphasizes that we must bear responsibility for the people who are moving into Finland or who are otherwise from differing cultures. Work life must be ready for this. 

– We need labour from elsewhere. But the people coming here also need many things. Workplaces must conduct in-house coaching to prepare for embracing difference. We must go through our own processes and also our attitudes.

A work community does not become diverse on its own. The workplace must view diversity as something they must learn about and there are many factors that must be taken into account. 

One in ten HR specialists report having observed discrimination in recruitment in their own organisations. Most often this discrimination relates to ethnic or foreign background or sex. This was discovered in the Diversity Barometer (2020) conducted by the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health. 

– This needs commitment from management. They must make the decision that the organisation goes through all of its practices and carefully combs through the language used in break rooms and the company’s intranet. What changes are needed so that we as an organisation can openly embrace a coder from Bangladesh or a data specialist from Russia?

Pohja emphasizes that in working life, diversity must be understood in a broad sense. All minorities must be seen and their needs taken into account. Work life must be open to us all.

No single group of people must be relegated merely to assisting tasks or to a certain line of work. One’s native language, skin colour or dressing according to one’s culture must not prevent anyone from ending up as a specialist. 

The coronavirus pandemic meant a digital leap in work life. Now we need a leap of attitudes.

– I don’t know a single Master of Science in Technology who is Romany. That is astonishing. I do not want the situation to be the same in 15 years. The coronavirus pandemic meant a digital leap in work life. Now we need a leap of attitudes. These issues must be discussed at workplaces.

All work towards diversity should be seen as a process, says Pohja. An equality plan is a great tool for the advancement of this work, and every organisation employing more than 30 persons is required to have one. Pohja wants every workplace to have such a plan. 

– When we survey, plan, evaluate and measure, we often tend to also promote matters with more determination. Systematic promotion of diversity develops a positive work culture and a more sustainable work life. Evaluation of equality measures and reporting on their realisation helps develop the company’s processes ranging from recruitment to working to management. It could therefore also be seen as a tool for developing the work culture.

Pohja hopes that in the future equality planning would take place on digital platforms where the documents are public. At the same time we could make equality-related training more visible and a more fixed part of the work community’s everyday operations.

Pohja’s suggestion would combine two major forces: robust engineering expertise and the desire to promote diversity in work life.

– This would be a great step forward. I hope that organisations understand how diversity can increase the value of the workplace in the eyes of potential employees. The more open you are about your goals and the measures taken to reach them, the better.

Asiasana