Genelec co-owner and Enterprise Culture Developer
It’s delightful to see the growing awareness of diversity and inclusion in recent years, both in society and the corporate world. What should be a natural and self-evident way of acting can often be difficult for us human beings. Yet we are all equal and have the same dignity, irrespective of background, education, skills, gender or position. So how do we increase workplace diversity and inclusion - and why should we do it?
At Genelec everything starts from our values: belief, enthusiasm, honesty, respect and justice. These values represent the world view and human perception we have as a company and working community, giving us basic guidelines on how to treat each other in our daily work, and be true to ourselves.
Building a safe space
A company’s success is often measured by its turnover and other financial numbers. They’re of course an integral part of the longevity and continuity of a company. Another angle, and for us at Genelec a very important one, is how diverse we are as individuals. With all the diversity in the company, we must also consider how we can build a safe space for us all to contribute to the shared goals. We know that we have succeeded as a community and company when our people want to stay with us for years, even decades. The deeper value comes from how we treat and take care of each other, and what kind of possibilities we can offer different people to grow as professionals and as human beings.
Our people may have different backgrounds and abilities, but they have the same opportunities to develop their general and professional skills. It’s not only about what people can offer us, but also what we can offer them as a workplace. We encourage and support our people in developing their professional skills and developing and influencing the whole company, its practices and innovations. We have learned to understand that people can have different talents and capabilities that affect their work: we all have our strengths and weaknesses. Some may also have certain restrictions and disabilities. This doesn´t mean their contribution is less valuable. On the contrary, they will have their own strengths. Finding the right ways for people to be able to work and contribute, whether it means working part time, having a personal assistant to help them move around, or a sign language interpreter, is a matter of practicalities that can be solved.
Anonymous recruitment is one very practical tool. It might not increase your diversity at the end of the process, but you become more aware of the mindset and prejudices that might affect your recruitment practices, and you can develop it further to treat the candidates equally. Anonymous recruitment helps to concentrate on the substance with a subjective-free mindset.
Diversity and inclusion aren’t only about taking account of differences between countries and their cultures or language or gender. Sometimes it might be very difficult to be a neighbour to the colleague who might look the same, but act very differently. Here at Genelec in Finland, there can be major cultural differences between families, or between Western and Eastern Finns. Diversity is about accepting the fact that we are all different individuals, and inclusion is about accepting the fact that we should all be treated and respected equally, no matter how different we are.
Increasing diversity and inclusion in our industry starts with us, our attitudes, and our beliefs. It starts with looking at people, their professional capabilities and their potential instead of their gender, colour or origin. What can this person bring to our community? How can we become part of their life? What can we contribute to each other? It’s also about taking account of different phases of life, such as becoming a parent or aging. Finding ways to adapt and finding flexible ways for people to do their work brings experience and silent wisdom to the organisation. To have a community of people with different ages, background, experience and cultural knowledge makes the working community richer and more resilient. Diversity and inclusive thinking create a solid ground for people to give their best.
The wider society
On a larger scale we need to think how we raise our children, as parents, kindergarten teachers, schoolteachers, coaches and idols. How do we build a society where children can reach for the things they are drawn to, and not the things they are expected to do based on their gender or background? This means supporting children and seeing their potential, encouraging them to find the path that is right for them and building a society where people have as much equal opportunity as possible.
As we are part of the wider society, it’s also important to do our fair share in contributing to that society. At Genelec, this means supporting organisations like The Music Works and Screencraft Works in the UK, working with people with different kind of barriers in life, or launching our own initiatives like G SongLab, where we’ve collaborated with experienced music educators to give young people an opportunity to develop their songwriting skills. Being able to create places where young people can try different things, and find ways to express themselves through the power of music - sometimes even finding their passion - is very valuable for us.
At the end of the day, diversity and inclusion means seeing ourselves in our neighbour!