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What two Finnish men have to say about diversity and inclusion

05 Nov 2020 by

Two relatively privileged middle-aged native Finns, Saku Tihveräinen from Talented and Lassi Lankinen from Finders Seekers, talking about diversity and inclusion. Sounds like the best pitch ever, right?

What’s common for us is that we’ve both worked and studied abroad. We’ve taken part in organisations that are super diverse with regards to people’s backgrounds. What we’ve noticed is that the mindset to international business tends to be in line with the diversity of the people.

We recognise the “walk the talk” -topic. Finders Seekers and Talented are promoting diversity in organisations and using English as internal communication language. We are working towards hiring diverse talents and not making language a barrier to hiring. Today Talented and Finders Seekers are mainly employing Finnish talents, this is likely to change.

When working in the Netherlands Lassi observed the following: The Dutch companies want to be seen as international even if they are fully Dutch. They communicate with the outside world in English. They are ready to make business -and they are open to hire foreign talent. It would not make sense to try to keep everything in Dutch for as long as possible and only change when you have to.

We see the change is beckoning. More and more companies are highlighting with pride that they hire in a diverse manner. There are more pro-D&I groups forming, which is great! It’s not an exclusive topic.

The diversity topic doesn’t need to be tedious, or fact-checking. With a bit of empathy amongst peers and leaders companies go a long way. One doesn’t need to be perfect from the beginning. And given the circumstances, Finland is doing actually really well, despite the lack or lag of international recruits in generic Finnish organisations.

What to consider when choosing a lingua franca?

In our case English in a Finnish speaking environment.

  • Some employees might struggle to express themselves in other than their native tongue

  • We’d like to remind that English is usually most people’s 2nd, 3rd or 4th language, which means most people are on a more even playing field

  • Offering language courses and chances to improve learning is key

  • If a person is outspoken in meetings happening in the native tongue but does not speak up in English spoken meetings, the managers should notice this and take supportive action

  • Choosing a global company language will improve cross-border communication

As a company you should ask yourself some simple questions:

Do we want to make more business with global organisations? Let’s use English on a daily basis.

Do we want to hire talent based on skills rather than language skills? Let’s use English on a daily basis.

Developers would say that 100% of the IT-jobs in Finland demand English, but only a few actually demand Finnish, excluding the public sector jobs and projects.

Now, as positive as we are about the language theme, it’s not a black and white theme. The pro of having people change the language from their native tongue to a second or third language is that you can welcome more talents with different thinking. On the other hand, the cons are that you lose the explicit and nuanced expressions of one’s own thinking and that is something to keep in mind. Read more about this topic from an excellent piece of research done by Niina Nurmi and Johanna Koroma.

We work in recruitment, Saku with digital leader search and Lassi with companies needing digital and tech talent. We help out folks to land new roles and companies to land great talent irrespective of their background. What matters is not what’s in the passport but what you can do. What you aspire to. What you think is possible. Don’t hesitate to be in touch if you are interested to talk more about talent,

Talented strives to shake up the general way of recruiting software professionals in Finland and worldwide. We help senior developers and designers to find better fitting jobs and projects, brainstorm career paths and become an entrepreneur. All free of charge.

We also help companies to build their own digital competences: Be it finding and recruiting the best tech people, buying external dev work wisely or growing one’s own IT-recruitment capability, we’ve got you.

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