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Finland needs us all – The employment of women with migrant backgrounds requires better leadership

In 2014, only 56 % of women with migrant backgrounds were employed. The OECD has in 2018 notified Finland on the subject. 

Finland needs us all. Considering that 43 % of migrant background women in Finland have a higher education degree, this is a huge waste of resources and knowledge. Organisations would benefit from readiness to employ people with diverse skill sets and backgrounds.  We need better leadership, non-discrimination and cooperation between civil society organisations and businesses to reach higher numbers of employment. We need diversity driven leadership, attractive employers and non-discrimination in working-life. 

We want to include people with immigrant backgrounds into all straits of society. One of the most important, men and women and all is equal access to working life. 

While the Finnish women’s euro on average is 84 cents of that of a Finnish man, for women with migrant backgrounds the euro is only 62 cents. Unemployment and low salaries mean low income and low pensions. Careers of women with migrant backgrounds are also shorter than those of men with migrant backgrounds. This will not change for the better without action.

Enhancing employment level is not just about activating the unemployed or adjusting unemployment benefits. We need to work for inclusiveness in employing organisations. The leadership as well as human resources practices should support diversity. This includes countering discrimination. In practice, enabling anonymous recruiting and taking into account work experience gained in (unpaid) positions of trust can be some of the first steps.

Eva Biaudet, President of the National Council of Women of Finland

National Council of Women of Finland, Making an Impact with Equality Acts program, and MONIKA – Multicultural Women’s Association, Finland in cooperation with the Manifold more program organized a discussion event on increasing inclusiveness of the Finnish working life, especially concerning women with migrant backgrounds on March 4th 2020. Records of the speeches are available (in Finnish only) here. Photos of the event are available here.

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