Diverse company is a tempting employer

Finnish labour market is developing more diverse due to shrinking domestic labour pool and increasing migration. In fact, many branches like construction, accommodation and hospitality, real estate services and ICT-related industries are heavily dependent on foreign origin workforce and expertise.

It is also true that every company aims first and foremost to recruit expertise that is needed in running business and fits into a company culture. Surely recruiters’ priorities are in skills, not in ethnical or cultural background of candidates. However, the changing labour market realities alert companies to re-create their employer brand, recruiting, integration and communication practices and organization culture to survive in business and competition for the right kind of skills and talents.

The Successful Multicultural Company Competition 2017 run by the Helsinki Region Chamber of Commerce in a partnership with Finland Chamber of Commerce, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment and European Social Fund, invited companies to test their readiness for diverse labour markets and workplaces.

Huone Events Hotel was awarded in the small size company (under 50 employees) category, JS Suomi Oy in medium size (50-250 employees) and WSP Finland Oy in big size company (over 250 employees) category. In addition, jury gave an honourable mention to BlueFors Cryogenics Oy for their exemplary attitude in developing the diversity of workforce and for their ability to transfer the top expertise into international business.

As an elementary part of the Competition, Hofstede Insights conducted a research with 45 companies and 2,000 respondents from various branches which brought up insightful information on diversity among companies.  The high response rate of close to 60% indicates both the relevance of the topic to personnel and the significance of the findings.

Within the participating companies, the most common percentage of the number of foreigners working in a Finnish organisation is 20-39%, although there is variation between small-organisations (<50 people), mid-sized organisations and larger organisations (>250 people). Larger organisations tend to have less foreigners working for them (5-19%).

Multicultural employers significantly tempting for foreign workforce

Employers which have a diverse group of employees are notably considered attractive employers by their employees – with a whopping 88% indicating so. Further 72% of the respondents indicate that their management feels that learning from other cultures is very important – which is an interesting observation. The barrier for employing foreign talents might be more present for hiring managers and recruiting personnel due to a lack of understanding of the benefits of multicultural workforce. It might also be that recruiters have an unrealistic assessment of the situation that domestic-based labour supply will meet the demands of future needs as it has been the case in the past. However, the undisputable fact is that Finland is every year loosing 10,000 workers more than there are young people entering into labour market.

Language barriers can be overcome

Language is often considered a barrier for foreign talent to gain employment. However, considering organisations which employ larger percentages of foreigners, language is not considered a real barrier – a mix of “Rally” Finnish/Swedish and English seems to work perfectly fine, perhaps helped by the fact that most of the organisations participating to the survey have a working culture in which the mindset is one of acceptance of differences and even more so, a culture where different mindsets are actively sought after.

Mindset and business needs matters, not percentages

Despite all kinds of initiatives set by state, community and decision-makers to use quotas for hiring e.g. women or foreigners – the most important element is the mindset which prevails in an organization. At end of the day, each company and employer must ask themselves, firstly, if it is normal in their organization to accept behaviour that act, look and think differently and secondly, how this mindset is transformed into domestic and international business prospects.


Authors

Markku Lahtinen
Project Director
Helsinki Region Chamber of Commerce

Egbert Schram
Managing Director
Hofstede Insights

 

The main article is in Finnish and can be found here.