Welcome to the 16th installment in the ongoing Local Diversity and Inclusion Spotlight series. In these blog posts, we’ll explore how various countries around the world address diversity and inclusion in their culture and workplace.
Our newest spotlight country? Finland, a country that celebrates its Independence Day on December 6.
Here are some things to know about diversity and inclusion in Finland.
Note: Information is excerpted from GlobeSmart Guides.
Finland is one of the most successful countries in closing the gender gap and Finnish women are among the highest educated in the world.
Relations between men and women in Finland reflect the egalitarianism that is a core value in Finnish society and a clearly expressed policy of the Finnish government. Unsurprisingly, Finnish women are among the highest educated in the world and there is a very high proportion of women in politics and other public roles. The Finns elected a woman, Tarja Halonen, as President of Finland in 2000, after she served as prime minister and foreign minister. She was reelected in 2006 and served until 2012.
Although Finnish society is incredibly equal compared to other countries, there are still some disparities in representation in business.
In the business world, there is still some lag in the representation of women at the highest levels. Nevertheless, women have achieved parity with men in middle management positions. In other respects, there continue to be some occupational and wage disparities that put women at an economic disadvantage.
Both genders have personal lives and often families to consider too outside the office.
The Equality Law of 1987 not only improved opportunities and rewards for women but also brought men into occupations traditionally held by women. The legislation also encouraged men and women to assume an equal share of responsibility for domestic life. It is now relatively rare for a woman to stay at home as a full-time housewife.
Gender should not have much of an impact on how you are treated in Finnish companies.
Women appreciate traditional courtesies, but will ultimately evaluate their male counterparts based on their attitude toward equality rather than on social niceties. In matters of money, women are usually independent and will assume responsibility for hosting a meal or other business activities.
Foreign businesswomen should not hesitate to ask questions as Finns are quite willing to assist newcomers.
Homosexuality has been decriminalized in Finland since 1971.
In 1971, homosexuality was decriminalized in Finland.
Gay marriage is legal in Finland with the same rights as heterosexual marriage.
Same-sex marriage is legal in Finland. Homosexual and heterosexual marriages have the same rights and responsibilities. Registered partnerships for same-sex couples became legal in 2001, with similar rights as marriage except regarding taking the spouse’s surname and the adoption of children.
Same-sex partners can adopt the biological children of their spouse and have joint adoption rights.
Same-sex couples are allowed to adopt their spouse’s biological children and have the right to joint adoption. In 2006, single women and female same-sex couples were granted the right to receive fertility treatments.
A person must have a medical certificate verifying they have been sterilized to legally change their gender.
Those who wish to change their legal gender are required to obtain a medical certificate verifying their sterilization. If the person seeking gender affirmation surgery is married or in a registered partnership, permission from the spouse is also necessary.
The resident spouse is allowed to sponsor their spouse and dependents for a residence visa in Finland.
Finland allows those who already have residence visas to sponsor their spouses and dependents. A marriage or registered partnership certificate must be legalized if it was issued by a country other than Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, or Iceland.
Finland has anti-discrimination laws in place to protect LGBT individuals.
In 2004, a Non-Discrimination Act came into effect that criminalized direct and indirect discrimination/harassment based on sexual orientation or any other grounds. The Act of Gender Equality then became law, including protections for individuals from discrimination when they undergo gender affirmation surgery.
Non-discrimination laws also exist in Finland. In 2014, a new law was passed to strengthen protections in the areas of employment, education, health, and more.
Helsinki is a gay-friendly city, offering lively LGBT venues including an annual Gay Pride festival.
Outright prejudice or violence towards LGBT individuals is rare in Finland. Homophobia generally takes the form of ignoring the issue. Many LGBT individuals avoid disclosing their gender identity and sexual orientation at school or in the workplace.
Helsinki is the main location of LGBT venues in the country and is home to the annual Gay Pride event. The city’s official website has a section for LGBT tourists, providing a list of accommodations, bars and clubs, restaurants, and much more. Finland has many LGBT support organizations.