In the City Strategy, Helsinki has committed to promoting non-discrimination, equality and human rights in all its activities. The City’s work on non-discrimination and equality aims to highlight human rights as a basis for activities, particularly from the perspective of non-discrimination. Gender equality should be mainstreamed in all of the City’s activities.
In February 2022, the City Board approved the equality and non-discrimination plan for services for the period 2022–2025. The aim of the plan is to prevent discrimination and promote equality in the City’s services and activities, thereby strengthening the realisation of the rights of city residents with diverse backgrounds and characteristics in everyday life. The four guiding principles of the plan are intersectionality, norm awareness, participation and accessibility. The plan contains almost 100 measures in total, three of which are City-wide and the rest are specific to the City Executive Office or individual divisions or enterprises. The progress on the measures is being monitored on a regular basis.
At the City level, the promotion of non-discrimination and gender equality in services has been supported through measures such as active communication, training, events and new materials, including a guide to norm-aware communication, a guide to the drafting of safer space principles and a guide to the preliminary assessment of gender and non-discrimination impacts for decision-makers. The City has been one of Helsinki Pride’s main partners in 2020–2022 and will be again in 2023. In summer 2021, the City Hall was Pride House, the main venue for Helsinki Pride.
As service providers, the city divisions play a key role in the implementation of equality and non-discrimination in City services. A separate coordination group on equality and non-discrimination issues has been set up in the Urban Environment Division and the Social Services and Health Care Division to strengthen the internal flow of information on this theme. In 2021, a sub-project of the EU’s Drivers of Equality project, coordinated by the Ministry of Justice, was carried out in cooperation between the City Executive Office and the Urban Environment Division to develop a tool to take non-discrimination and gender equality into account in city planning.
Staff perspective on equality and non-discrimination
The City of Helsinki is the largest employer in Finland, employing approximately 39,000 people. The City has worked for a long time to promote the wellbeing and equality of its staff. The staff equality and non-discrimination plan 2022–2025 guides HR policy work in promoting equal and non-discriminating working life.
The measures of the equality and non-discrimination plan promote, among other things, the employment of people with disabilities or those with partial work ability, summer jobs for young people aged 16–29 who need targeted support for employment, and accessible practical training. Information events and training on the staff equality and non-discrimination plan and its priorities and measures were organised for the City’s employees. The City of Helsinki favours anonymous recruitment and has piloted affirmative action in recruitment. Diverse recruitment is based on the equal and non-discriminating treatment of applicants and promotion of staff diversity. Management and supervisors were provided with training and workshops on accessible recruitment and affirmative action. The diversity clause used in job advertisements was specified. The purpose of the clause is to encourage applicants from as diverse backgrounds as possible to apply for the City’s jobs.
The City has launched safer space principles, and work communities have virtual group discussions on equality and non-discrimination and diverse recruitment. At the beginning of June 2022, a We Walk With Pride event was organised for the City’s employees to tune in to the Pride atmosphere. The staff had the opportunity to participate in a training session on LGBTQ+ vocabulary and LGBTQ+-sensitive customer encounters and a panel discussion on the implementation of equality and non-discrimination in working life and the consideration of gender and sexual diversity in the City’s work communities. A discussion event was also organised for staff, where experts and management discussed the importance of a diverse work community.
- City-wide equality and non-discrimination plans 2022–2025 have been prepared.
- The promotion of non-discrimination and gender equality has been strengthened at the group level, for example in public enterprises.
- City-wide coordination of Roma affairs has been strengthened.
- Minorities within minorities have been highlighted in the themes of public events: racialised LGBTQ+ people in 2021, older and disabled LGBTQ+ people in 2022.
- The Helsinki Pride Community granted the City the ‘Ylpeys muuttaa maailmaa’ recognition for its outstanding work in promoting equal and non-discriminatory encounters of sexual and gender minorities in 2021.
- The aspects of non-discrimination and gender equality have been strengthened as part of the work on sustainable development.
Areas for development:
- A lack of indicators to verify the realisation of non-discrimination and gender equality and a lack of a clear set of indicators to assess the effectiveness of equality and non-discrimination work.
- The transfer of materials produced in projects and basic work to systematic and continuous use throughout the City organisation.
- The lowering of the threshold for reporting discrimination and harassment and the development of a uniform approach to the processing and monitoring of reports.