Koskisen Group05.04.2016

FIBS’ Diversity Network members go on study trip to Berlin

Koskisen has been a member of FIBS, the leading non-profit corporate responsibility network in Finland, since 2014. In the same year, we also joined FIBS’ Diversity Network by signing the Diversity Charter, through which we pledge to offer equal opportunities, recognise and use individual competence, manage our personnel and client relations fairly and communicate our targets and achievements relating to diversity. 

FIBS Diversity Network passengers

FIBS Diversity Network passengers

FIBS’ Diversity Network (Diversity Charter Finland) helps companies to develop diversity management practices that take into consideration both personnel and clientele and to utilise people’s different backgrounds, competences and characteristics in order to create a more innovative, productive and responsible working environment.

Diversity Networks have been set up in 15 European countries so far, most recently in the Netherlands, Finland, Estonia, Ireland and Luxembourg. The activities of every European network are based on the Diversity Charter.

Koskisen had the opportunity to take part in a study trip on diversity management in Berlin on the 3rd and 4th of March 2016, as FIBS chose four Finnish member companies of Diversity Charter Finland to join the trip. The study trip was organised jointly by the Finnish, Polish and German Diversity Networks, and it was financed by the EU Platform of Diversity Charters. Finland was represented by Koskisen (Eva Wathén), Wärtsilä (Saara Eder-Falck), Alma Media (Sanna Forsström-Hack) and Posti Group (Merja Suomalainen). FIBS’ representatives were Riina Kasurinen, Manager of Diversity Charter Finland, and Aulikki Sippola, Specialist in Diversity Management.

The Polish companies were represented by EDF Polska, Orange Polska, Provident Polska and ArcelorMittal Poland. Germany was represented by the member companies of its diversity network, Axel Springer, BSR, VIA Schankhalle Pfefferberg and Deutsche Bahn, and of course representatives of the network itself.

Each company gave a presentation about the measures they have taken in the area of diversity management and about their current challenges. Here at Koskisen, we have shared information about Koskisen Academy before, and now we are using a broader a lens to look into ways of activating young people who are at risk of being marginalised by means of employment or studies. We believe that apprenticeship training is an excellent and practical option for this. An upcoming challenge in terms of diversity management relates to how to get the work community to adapt to new ethnic groups and their representatives, and how can we best utilize the community’s strengths in this respect.

On the basis of the study trip, gender aspects of diversity management receive more attention in Central Europe than in Scandinavia. That said, the share of women in the Boards of listed companies is also closely monitored in Finland. The development in Finland has been slower than hoped for, but I am not sure if the reasons for this are the same as in, say, Poland and Germany.

Critical mass is reached at 33 per cent – the point at which the richness introduced by the minority begins to genuinely benefit the whole. To take an example, this means two female members in a management team of six.

It was also interesting to learn that both Germany and Poland have quotas on the number of people with disabilities who must make up the total number of employees: 5 per cent in Germany and 6 per cent in Poland. It was not entirely clear, however, how they define disability. The quotas seem high to me, and I assume that sector-specific deviations are allowed in order to not jeopardise, for example, occupational safety.

We were also among the first Finns to get to test Deutsche Bahn’s diversity game, which is much like a traditional board game. Based on the number of pips on the dice, the player is faced with a challenge relating to diversity management, and the matter is then discussed in a small group. 

In my view, the highlight of the trip was the “Unconscious Bias” workshop led by Jessica Gedamu. It was very thought-provoking, and we have discussed its contents in our own workshops at Koskisen since the trip. To sum up, we basically all have prejudices. The important thing is to be aware of them and understand their meaning in diversity management.

The study trip opened up a broader, different view to diversity management. It involves much more than just focussing on age, gender or ethnic background. It is about how to take different training backgrounds, experience, skills, capabilities, personal values, culture, etc. into account better. A true understanding of diversity is a great richness which, at its best, increases productivity, reduces risks, brings cost savings, creates new products and services, and significantly influences our image as a supplier, employer and partner. Diversity management is an important topic.

Eva Wathén

Director, CSR & Brand