Who are the Finnish inclusion leaders?

February 28, 2018

In spring 2017, I co-organized a first network of Finnish inclusion leaders at the Inclusive leadership seminar in Helsinki.

Watch our seminar highlights and how we define inclusion:

Like many European nations, Finnish society is becoming more racially, ethnically, religiously and otherwise diverse. Yet, amid rising populism everywhere, hate speech, hate crimes, ethnic profiling and racism is far from absent in this part of the world. Even though Finland is an inspiration to the world on how to build best education systems, be a champion in peace negotiations and gender diversity, there is a lot to do on representation of true diversity in the media, at the workplace and in politics.

As an small example, in 2016 Finland faired badly on social inclusiveness according to the EU Media pluralism monitor report: public service media should be mindful of minority needs and make sure minority voices are heard. In other words, more can be done to cover minority issues and enable equal access to the media for people with minority backgrounds.

Setumo Bodibe and I are alumni of an ambitious network called Transatlantic Inclusion Leaders (TILN) network with German Marshall Fund. With GMF Alumni initiative grant, we joined forces to launch a first Finnish Inclusion Leaders seminar. It tooks us time to find, track and contact these 20 professionals so we could invite them to a 1-day pilot project seminar.  Our aim was to enable new connections, different activities and discussions on the future of a diverse Finland.

These creative and amazing 20 professionals are all community leaders in their right, both of Finnish ethnic origin and Finns with other various ethnic backgrounds with representatives from grassroots, arts, public and the business.

From Kontula to Ullanlinna

The US Embassy was our host, located in Ullanlinna, an idyllic and historical Helsinki district very close to well-known Kaivopuisto Park it shows another picture of well-to-do Helsinki to compare with less privileged Kontula. This event focused on embracing how to enable access to the political, media and business coridors and take part in desicionmaking as constructive members of societies. Participants worked with Finnish and U.S. facilitators to strengthen leadership, inclusive policymaking and coalitionbuilding skills in order to create visibile social changes through their line of work. I would say that Americans have a gift for networking and trainers encouraged to foster stronger links to each other when leading change.

Inclusion is a battle across the Atlantics

Marshal Plan celebrated 70 years, Finland turned 100, EU founding treaty of Rome 65 years and yet with the last election in the US, the need for resilience movements e.g. Womens’ march went through the roof with Trump clearly undermining human rights in so many ways. #Metoo and #wetoo are also examples of resilience and that people care. With a profound TILN spirit, we engaged along the Adnan Kifayat, senior GMF fellow with a focus on personal leadership and ways to define personal leadership vs. community leadership. With local municipal elections that took place on 9.4.2017 there has been a lot of debates with focus on sustainable leadership practices. 2 of the participants Habiba Ali and Ozan Yanar were elected to the local council 2017. Many POC (persons of color) candidates were elected citing issues which matter: social activism, anti-racism positions, their messages of hope and bridge-building.

Several sessions covered:

  • personal leadership training
  • discussions on cohabiting in ethnically diverse neighbourhoods
  • debate on what should be done#FILN #GMFTILN #Globaldignity #inclusion #empathy #FILNforbetterFinland

Here are some sources which features Inclusion leaders from Finland

One year later: I have made stronger connections and engaged with many of the members on Global Dignity work, several has spoken to empower  teenagers at Global Dignity speaker events and it is a pleasure to connect and build initiatives and create a unique voice to remove “the otherness” and “being the stranger” in the society or in a social setting.

All in all all people everybody wants the best for their future – to live in a stronger, inter and intra-connected Finland with social equality. An inclusive Finland, which recognizes its citizens with space for each individual regardless of physical appearances, ethnic background, age, sexual orientation, gender, physical impairments or religious believes.

#GMFTILN Thanks for all the mentoring by Mischa Thompson, Lora Berg, Daniel Gyamerah (alumni Germany TILN’13), Ufuk Kahya (alumni Netherlands TILN ’14) and Simon Woolley Director at Operation Black vote.

I am convinced 100% that these events build trust and a strong network among community leaders who will in the future run the country and be the decision-makers in all different spheres. Now that Setumo and I have planted the seeds I want to be part of continuing building coalitions, friendships and meaningful projects that drive social inclusion and builds common grounds by removing stereotypes.

An impact we may not yield but collectively through serving community for profound positive social change.

If you want to get involved in Finnish Inclusion leaders, drop me a line!

More :

Read bios here

List-of-Participants FILN Helsinki 27042017-min