Diversity, inclusiveness, non-discrimination. Those are all ideals modern companies want to live by and exhibit, yet rarely truly do. Their positive repercussions in innovativeness, well-being and morale amongst others are well known, much researched and documented. But do we really know what these words mean and how to bring them alive?
HAAGA-HELIA has started on this journey of discovery and exploration into the meaning, benefits, implications and management of diversity. Our Easter discovery and surprise to most staff was the signing and joining of the Finnish Diversity Charter.
We realize this is just the first steps on the road to building a more diverse, inclusive and non-discriminative work and study environment, but it’s definitely a powerful sign in the right direction.
In practice this means that we are committed to developing our leadership, management and processes paying attention to diversity and non-discrimination. More specifically, we aim to offer equal opportunities, recognize, utilize and promote individual capabilities and needs, lead personnel and students in a non-discriminatory way and to openly communicate our goals and progress.
This announcement sparked more feedback than any other initiative related to corporate responsibility, or CSR, before. Nearly all of the feedback was positive in agreeing that the idea is important, suits our operations and strategy and is definitely something worth paying attention to. Most worries were related to transparency, pay and overtime issues as well as performance criteria especially with respect to projects and commercial activities. Some raised issues related to the treatment of our vast diversity of students.
All the feedback, those voiced and those still in your minds, demonstrate that we have picked a valuable topic and area to further develop
Diversity, inclusiveness and non-discrimination do not relate to hiring, firing and management only. They relate to each and everyone of us, each and every day. Although this issue will be addressed at the management team level, I encourage all staff to approach this also on a personal level; and to explore this both in the classroom and in the office. When you take a moment to look around, you’ll realize there are plenty of opportunities to engage with new people, reach new ideas, listen to new dreams, meet new people, discover new sides of colleagues and students you already know and to learn. At the end of the day, isn’t that what diversity is all about?
text Minna-Maari Harmaala
Principal Lecturer, Corporate Responsibility