Towards a Multicultural Work Environment

Diversity needs leadership. The fact is that the Satakunta region needs immigrants. This means that workplaces are becoming increasingly international and more diverse.

Harri Tuomi also serves as the Chairman of the Satakunta Chamber of Commerce. Together with CEO Minna Nore, they aim to take actions that lower barriers related to international workforce. Image Veera Korhonen

Harri Tuomi, Managing Director of the Satakunnan Osuuskauppa retail cooperative, recently began to question why there are relatively few foreigners working in the cooperative. Now he is encouraging others to do the same.

One of the first things he noticed was that recruiters have required Finnish language skills, even for jobs that do not necessarily requiresuch skills.

“The language issue affects the whole society. It is not just a single decision. Rather, it’s a change that involves thinking about how the whole organisation can welcome the newcomer into the work community and how the whole family can be welcomed into the local community,” Tuomi explains.

Different Backgrounds

Workforce diversity refers to the variety of employees. Diversity can be related to, for example, ethnicity, language, religion and beliefs, sexual orientation, disability or age. At the cooperative, diversity has recently also meant hiring people aged 14 to 75 for summer jobs.

Harri Tuomi believes that the cooperative has an important role to play in supporting the development of Satakunta, so that immigrants can settle in the region. Satakunnan Osuuskauppa plays an important role in the everyday lives of almost all the people of Satakunta.

According to Tuomi, shops, services and restaurants must be able to foster an environment where ethnic diversity is better taken into account. Attention must be paid to religious and cultural needs – also in the workplace.

“This kind of development does not happen by itself. It has to be managed, and that’s the employer’s job. It requires an extensive dialogue about what is possible and what is not in work communities, or what is allowed and what is not. We need to establish common rules. Even with diversity, there need to be certain boundaries, because a company has business goals it needs to reach.”

"You must remember to and know how to show appreciation. And know how to accept it."

Appreciation is the Key

The management of Satakunnan Osuuskauppa has been actively engaged in discussions in all branches across the region. There have been 80 meetings in total. The main themes of the discussions have been corporate culture, respect and trust.

“Appreciation is the key. It means that teams understand that people are different and that everyone has the right to
be themselves. At Satakunnan Osuuskauppa, you can also make mistakes and learn as you go. The most important thing you need is the courage to solve problems.”

Tuomi’s approach to leadership is based on the idea that we can move things forward by strengthening what is already good.

“Without appreciation, there can be no trust. You also need to have the courage to accept appreciation, especially as the level of demands has increased in all jobs, and there is pressure from all directions. The appreciation is already there, and it needs to be shown. The meaningfulness of work is present all the time. Appreciation is reflected in pride in your store.”

The guiding principles of Satakunnan Osuuskauppa are equity, people-centredness, and equality.

“The principles are part of our values. When we talk about diversity in the workplace, it’s like an iceberg. Only the tip is visible on the surface, but there is a lot going on underneath it that’s not visible.”

“We are doing our part to create an environment where there is room for internationality. We need to lead by example. All organisations still have a lot of work to do to promote inclusion.”

What is DEI?

D. Diversity means having a mixture of different people.

E. Equity is the understanding that different minority groups have different starting points.

I. Inclusion refers to belonging and participation. It’s about making everyone feel welcome and part of the community.

The guiding principles of Satakunnan Osuuskauppa are equity, people-centredness, and equality. Image: Veera Korhonen

Satakunta Chamber of Commerce magazine 2/2024 Satakunta