#DiversityforFuture: How we created a communication campaign about multiculturalism in Finland

Hello!

We are Katarina Sladakovic and Raysa França, and we are international students living in Tampere, in Finland. This semester, as part of our studies, we created a communication campaign to raise awareness about the importance of internationalization of the Finnish workplace, with a special focus on international students.
In this blog post, we are going to walk you through this challenge, on why we chose the topic, on why it matters, and finally, what we plan to publish online.

The elephant in the room: talking about a diversity challenge

Katarina is from Serbia, and Raysa is from Brazil, and we both moved to Finland in September of 2019. Naturally, internationalization is a topic that matters personally for us. We are both international students looking to integrate into Finnish life and into the job market, so when we confronted problems of inclusion, we decided to act and be part of the solution. By being in this initiative, we realized that diversity and the inclusion of internationals in the workplace in Finland is like an elephant in the room. Often brings a lot of negative feelings, and it seems a big and impossible problem to solve. For this campaign, however, our strategy to tackle the elephant in the room is by focusing on the brighter and lighter elements of diversity.

What did we do for our communication campaign?

We started addressing the issue when we began working as volunteers at the International Student Employabilityproject, as part of the Erasmus Student Network organization (ESN FINT), a student organization at Tampere University. In our previous work in this initiative, we helped organize recruitment events, workshops for students and we promoted the erasmusintern.org platform. We realized that an important step before promoting a platform would be to highlight the importance of international talents in Finnish organizations, firms, and companies.

So when the sustainability & impact club piloted in Tampere Universities, it was natural for us to partner our initiative with the club.

Crossing paths with the sustainability & impact club

For the second part of the sustainability & impact club of Tampere Universities, the idea was that students would work in teams solving a big challenge in the field of sustainability. The voice of international students is an important voice in the social inclusion and diversity debate in Finland, and we hoped for our big challenge in the club to make this voice a bit louder.

From the club, we received guidance and mentorship from Eva, we participated in events with impactful guests, and we could count on the support of the other students.

Why diversity and inclusion matter

With approx. 3500 international students in Tampere Universities, wouldn’t it be great to engage them further in Finnish society and economy? 3500 international talents bring to the university and the city creativity, new perspectives, and valuable network connections in their home countries.

Diversity and inclusion have concrete positive outcomes for society:

  • At the university level, by creating a more accepting space for diversity, students feel more welcomed, and the retention rate can increase.
  • It helps spread a good image and reputation of Finland in countries where not many people are familiar with the Nordic culture and way of living.
  • More creativity, different ways of looking at the same issues, and new ways of problem-solving.
  • This helps in the process of innovation, but also in simply understanding diverse markets many Finnish companies serve or hope to serve in the future.

One way of addressing the importance of diversity and inclusion is through the doughnut economic model, which addresses the planet and social boundaries by which the economy can operate to create a safe living in the XXI century. The shortfall represents people living without basic access to the social foundation of life, e.g., education, health, energy, water, and so on. The model also acknowledges that nature operates within certain boundaries that allow life on Earth, that cannot be overshot, such as air pollution and climate change. In the doughnut economic model, our initiative addresses social equity, political voice, and income & work.

The doughnut highlights the importance of our initiative in the bigger picture of a sustainable and resilient economy - and at the same time, it shows the importance of multidimensional action.

International Tampere Hub

Our initiative complements the efforts of theInternational Tampere Hub, which is part of the TalentBoost national program, and it is a platform created and maintained by the City of Tampere to attract international talents and promote the internationalization of Finnish organizations.

We started collaborating with the Hub after we met their representatives at a workshop on employment,t and learned they are compiling a database with all relevant and reliable resources internationals looking for employment in Finland may need to help their immigration and integration process. Since we were working on the ErasmusIntern project, an online platform that connects companies and international students looking for internships, we have recognized the mutual interest in further collaboration. This February we co-organized Start-up Rekry job fair with the Hub, and this campaign is a continuation of our joint work.

In this sense, our mission, and the goals of our campaign, are very similar to the ones in the Hub.

Obstacles and solutions

Our first idea for the project would be to host events for students and organizations, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we changed our ideas and decided to carry out a communication campaign online. Maintaining communication only online with our guests was a pity, but at the same time, it made it easier and more convenient to interview people and learn about internationalization stories.

The challenge has eventually transformed into an energetic communication campaign.

Campaign’s focus

The aim of the campaign was to collect stories highlighting the benefits and real-life challenges of implementing diversity in practice. Our guests shared their individual, unique experiences illustrating how they experienced diversity in their life/workplace. For this purpose, we reached out to internationals working and living in Finland, companies working with internationals or interested in internalization of their workplace, Finns working with internationals and current students. In addition to stories, we have conducted a few interviews as well, discussing different aspects of diversity and inclusion in Finland.

Campaign’s outline

Here you can check the website with information about our campaign.

Below, there is our plan on what kind of contents we will produce and when they will be released:

  • Opening video - Diversity for Future - 18th of May

  • Song’s story - Life experiences - with a new video - released on Medium on May 25th.
  • Ilaria’s story - Creativity - to be realease in May
  • Lauri’s image - jump into the pool - to be realease in May
  • Brown’s story - Entrepreneurship - to be realease in June
  • Mizra’s story - learning from Finnish culture - to be realease in June
  • Takura’s story - to be realease in June
  • Immigrants in Finland - Finnish famous brands - to be realease in June
    These stories will be published in the Medium platform, on youtube, and Instagram. They will also be shared on Linkedin.

Next’s steps

Our communication campaign doesn’t end when the club finishes in May 2020. After that, we have a plan to publish the following content with stories we also have been interviewing during our partnership with the club.

Furthermore, we will continue interviewing interesting people for our case during summertime.

What about the future of the project?

One of the goals of the communication campaign is to strengthen the network of people we can reach for research purposes (in order to understand the obstacles to internationalization) and further engagement in webinar events, platform usage, and competitions.

As a continuation of this campaign, we are planning a webinar for new international students of Tampere University on how to navigate job seeking in Finland.
In Autumn, we are continuing to work for international student employability with different stakeholders in Tampere.

We also want to ensure that, in the future, this project will be continued by motivated volunteers such as we are. So we will be working with this “continuation project” during summertime.

Contact information

katarina.sladakovic@esnfint.org and raysa.franca@esnfint.org