The Week against racism encourages people to intervene in discrimination in working life

Photo: Eeva Anundi / Suomen Punainen Risti

Studies have shown that people with a foreign background encounter discrimination that hinders their career development nearly twice as often as the rest of the population.

This year, the Week against racism, which starts on 20 March, will focus on discrimination experienced in working life. As part of the week’s programme, awards will be granted to Pioneers Against Prejudice who have promoted equality through their actions.

A name has an effect on who gets invited to a job interview. If an applicant’s name sounds foreign, their chances of getting an interview are worse than if they had a Finnish name.

This year, The week against racism, which will run from 20 to 26 March, will focus on aspects such as discrimination in working life. The week encourages everyone to identify racism and oppose discrimination.

People with foreign backgrounds encounter discrimination in terms of their colleagues’ and supervisors’ attitudes, career development and salaries, in particular. However, only 7% of those who have experienced discrimination at work or in job search have reported it.

–Racism can take the form of conscious actions or name calling, but it may also involve inadvertent comments or practices that are seemingly neutral but exclude certain individuals. Therefore, it is important to recognise racism in daily life and structures, become aware of personal prejudice and actively remove discriminative structures, says Planning Officer Sanna Saarto from the Finnish Red Cross integration support services.

In order to weed out racism, it is important to recognise your own attitudes and not hesitate to intervene in discrimination. Instructions on how to take action against racism can be found here.

The week against racism will be visible on social media and at various events around Finland. You can follow the week’s programme on social media with the hashtag #WeekAgainstRacism. The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, the Ministry of Justice and the Finnish Red Cross will also hold a seminar (in Finnish) titled Equal working life – how can it be achieved? (Yhdenvertainen työelämä – miten sitä rakennetaan?) You can watch the seminar through live stream. The registration link can be found here (in Finnish).

Pioneers Against Prejudice

To celebrate the week against racism, The Finnish Red Cross will grant Pioneer Against Prejudice awards to people, groups or communities that promote humanity and equality through their activities. These recognitions will be awarded by local Red Cross districts around Finland.

Helsinki and Uusimaa district to recognise a clinic for the paperless

Global Clinics are clinics run by volunteers for the paperless. They provide help for free, anonymously and confidentially. For years, these clinics have been offering health and medical care to people facing barriers in getting treatment.

– In addition to providing treatment and advice, the Global Clinic has, from the start, been safeguarding everyone’s right to health care regardless of background and working towards ensuring that paperless individuals are able to receive non-urgent treatment through public health care. The clinic has been actively aiming to change discriminating practices and making it possible for paperless individuals to access health care services, the district explains its decision.

Equal education opportunities in Lapland, and support for the cooperation between home and school in Southwest Finland

The Lapland district of the Finnish Red Cross will grant Carita Seikkula the 2023 Pioneer Against Prejudice award. Carita teaches an immigrant group of practical nurses at Lapland Education Centre REDU in Rovaniemi.

In 2021 and 2022, she open-mindedly began to provide immigrants with practical nurse’s training. The participants of these training groups become motivated and competent nurses, and equal members of our society.

The Southwest Finland district of the Red Cross gave the award to an organisation called Monikulttuurinen varhaiskasvatus, koulu ja koti ry. The aim of the organisation is to enhance the cooperation between home and school and provide support to teachers.

– The organisation does valuable work for social inclusivity, equality and accessibility, and promotes the integration of multilingual children, young people and their families into the Finnish society, the district states.

Praise to successful integration work in Oulu, help provided in western Finland for people fleeing war and a vicar in Häme who recognises gender diversity

The Oulu district of the Red Cross will grant a Pioneer Against Prejudice award to the City of Kuusamo’s immigration coordinator, Raisa Kuusisto.

‘Kuusisto has been helping clients integrate and boosted collaboration between the Kuusamo branch of the Red Cross and the authorities. Her style of working has always reflected the themes of anti-racism and appreciation of volunteer work,’ states the Oulu district.

The district of Western Finland has chosen the Municipality of Uurainen as the recipient of the Pioneer Against Prejudice. The municipality has taken exemplary action by receiving families fleeing war in cooperation with a reception centre.

It has coordinated the cooperation between organisations, associations, clubs and parishes, and helped to establish a welcoming atmosphere, willing to adapt to new circumstances.

The Pioneer Against Prejudice from Häme is the vicar of Vesilahti parish, Harri Henttinen, who has been challenging society into considering gender diversity. Henttinen receives praise for having been able to build bridges in order for people with different backgrounds to meet.

The district of Southeast Finland recognises an individual who combats bullying and an educational community that takes special needs into account

The district of Southeast Finland grants the Pioneer Against Prejudice award to magician Janne Mustonen, who has been combating bullying at school, and to the Joint Authority of Education of Kotka-Hamina Region, Ekami.

– Through his actions, Janne Mustonen has promoted equality and a more diverse society. We agree that bullying at schools must end, the district explains its decision.

Ekami is given the award thanks to the fact that the vocational education it provides takes the various needs of immigrants and students with special support requirements into account.

Track and field in Ostrobothnia and daytrips to immigrants in Turunmaa

The Swedish-language Red Cross district of Ostrobothnia (Österbotten) gave the Pioneer Against Prejudice award to teacher Cecilia Österlund, who has encouraged young local immigrants to take part in track and field sports. Österlund is training ten young boys, who have been successful at track and field competitions.

The Pioneer Against Prejudice award in Turunmaa (Åboland) went to the organisation Saaristo ilman rajoja (‘Archipelago without borders’) for its work with immigrants. The organisation has been offering a wide range of activities to immigrants, including daytrips and multicultural parties.