To be as a complete person also at the workplace

Tunnelmia Pride-kulkueesta.
Helsinki Pride Parade in July 2022.

The theme of this year’s Helsinki Pride Month is Joy and Riot. Pride has its roots precisely in rebellion. The movement began when a group of people no longer agreed to remain silent in the face of discrimination, arbitrariness and outright violence against sexual and gender minorities. The fact that pride today is also about joy has required an enormous amount of courage from individuals. They stood up to prevail norms and expose themselves to ridicule and danger. Although much progress has been made, sexual and gender minorities are still not fully equal with the majority. Rebellion is still needed to ensure that equality and inclusion are genuinely realised in working life, for example.

What is the position of minoririties in the forest sector

Luontoa is currently conducting a study on the realisation of equality and inclusion in forest sector workplaces in Finland. The position of sexual and gender minorities in the field is one of the themes of the study. My feeling, as someone who has worked in the industry for a long time, is that there is still a lot of work to be done to achieve genuine inclusion and equality. Diversity is perceived through age, (dual) gender or educational background. Disability, different ethnic backgrounds or belonging to sexual and gender minorities are hardly visible in workplaces in the sector.

When asked, many say “of course it’s OK to be openly gay”. When you scratch the surface of the topic, it turns out that sexual and gender minorities are nearly invisible in the industry. People who belong to minorities are hardly known in the work community. This naturally raises the question of whether people belonging to these minorities do not apply to the field at all for some reason, or whether they have to hide a part of themselves at work. We know from research that this is extremely draining for humans.

Inclusivity is measured in workplace coffee table conversations

It seems that many people in the industry think that a colleague’s sexual orientation has no place in the workplace. However, a straight man can naturally talk about his wife without this being seen as trumpeting his sexual orientation. Seemingly harmless throws and jokes in coffee table conversations can create an atmosphere where people feel like they can’t be themselves.

I can’t believe that anyone in the forest or any other industry would be deliberately exclusive or wanted to offend. Still, awareness of small, everyday issues is needed to increase inclusion. It is not enough for workplaces to have zero tolerance for harassment and discrimination. We also need an understanding of how inclusion is realised in everyday interaction. Fortunately, there are also wonderful work communities, even in the forest industry, where everyone can breathe freely and without fear. The realization of inclusion is an attraction and keeping factor for workplaces, which should be proudly voiced.

It’s wonderful to be yourself

Luontoa Consulting wants to change the world for the better, not only for nature, but also for people. As Helsinki Pride’s small business partner, we support the organisation of Finland’s largest human rights event with our small financial contribution. During Pride week at the turn of June and July, you can meet me as a volunteer at various events and, of course, enjoying a joyful event that shines in all the colors of the rainbow. I am happy that I get to be a whole person at my current workplace, Luontoa: a biodiversity expert, a Sámi, a queer, a tough negotiator, a passionate human rights activist, a runner and a yogi, a fisher and a hunter, easily sensitive to tears, a knitting nerd that thrives in the corner of the sofa – just the way I am.

Have a joyful Pride!

Inka / Luontoa Consulting

Luontoa Consulting is Helsinki Pride’s small business partner.