It looks like you are using Internet Explorer, which unfortunately is not supported. Please use a modern browser like Chrome, Firefox, Safari or Edge.

Starting Nitor’s DEIB journey

Publicerad i Jobb, Hållbarhet

Skriven av

Erkko Vanhakartano
People Partner (på studieledighet)

Erkko is a solution-oriented people professional who focuses on recruitment, employer branding, and DEIB work. He has seven years of experience in tech recruitment in the Nordics. As a person, Erkko is a big fan of Negronis, all forms of art, and people who do things their own way.


13 juni 2024 · 6 min lästid

In the spring of 2022, Nitor began taking a more active stance on driving diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging initiatives within our organization. Here are some key takeaways we’ve discovered during these first steps, as well as Nitor’s take on what is needed to maintain momentum towards a more inclusive work environment.

“There are unconscious biases and discrimination within Finnish society, and Nitor is also a part of this society. Therefore, we need to address these issues also at Nitor and not be naive in thinking they don’t exist here.” 

These are the words that I use to open our DEIB onboarding sessions for new Nitoreans. They also conclude why we started to allocate more resources towards DEIB work at Nitor a couple of years ago.

Despite many steps taken towards a more diverse and equitable society during the past decades, discrimination and prejudice are still prevalent issues in Finland. For example, a study by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) suggests that people of African descent consider Finland as one of the most racist countries in the EU. Also, gender equality leaves much to be desired in the Finnish tech field. Discrimination in all its forms causes substantial stress and trauma and prevents a great number of people from being themselves and living to their full potential. Just hoping for the best and assuming that these issues don't concern one’s own company does not make the problems go away. 

That’s why we at Nitor thought that we could, at least, try to affect our shared working environment. We might not be able to change the whole sphere of Finnish working life, but we can ensure that we do our part to create a more diverse, just, and equitable working life.

I’m happy to share a bit more about Nitor's DEIB journey and what we have learned so far. The most effective DEIB actions and the mindset behind driving change probably differ from one organization to another. Still, I hope this blog post inspires you to do something about the matter in your own organization. Baby steps are more than alright – any movement is better than standing still. If you feel like copying something from how we’ve started to drive DEIB work at Nitor, be my guest!

The first initiative

In the spring of 2022, we concluded that it was time to do something concrete, to take a more active stance on driving DEIB (diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging) at Nitor. This is when we conducted our first (now annual) DEIB survey to gather data on how Nitoreans felt about the importance of DEIB, to map the specific areas where Nitor could improve, and to understand how Nitoreans would like us to proceed.

Even though I discuss the Nitorean culture and community affairs daily, I have to admit I was somewhat surprised by the two areas that needed the most improvement: the gap in communication styles between people of different age groups / seniority levels, and the communication style on some of our internal Slack channels. On a more general level, most respondents wanted Nitor to take a more active stance on advancing DEIB and make this work more visible on a communal level.

I understood the results of this survey as a call for more organized, continuous, and strategic DEIB work. The “official” part of Nitor, i.e., our leadership, people operations, and DEIB team, obviously needed to address the mentioned issues directly, with conduct on Slack, for example, possibly requiring a more active and official stance. But this wouldn’t be enough. 

We had already formed our DEIB team before the survey; this team welcomes everyone at Nitor to join an open Slack channel and gathers monthly to discuss relevant matters and decide on courses of action. However, because no one in this team had extensive formal education on DEIB matters and we wanted to ensure we took the first steps right, we decided to team up with an external partner. This is how we ended up partnering with Inklusiiv, a DEI consultancy, who have already proven to be hugely helpful on the journey (thank you so much Inklusiiv’s DEI consultants Yesmith Sánchez, Aparna Shakkarwar, and Katja Toropainen at this stage!).

We figured that a good start would be to ensure that everyone at Nitor is on the same page regarding terminology and the basic concepts of DEIB. Hence, we organized specialized unconscious bias trainings with Inklusiiv for our leadership team and recruitment team, as well as a series of company-wide trainings on unconscious bias during spring 2023.

During these sessions, we learned that it’s typical for human beings to have biases, but we’re also able to control, divert, and choose not to act upon them. One might, for example, favor a candidate from the same university they attended, or someone with the same cultural background as themselves. These are moments when it’s most important to be aware of one’s own biases and know when to ignore them.

In addition to these training sessions, our cooperation with Inklusiiv for the foreseeable future comprises strategy work and sparring on both internal and external communications. After the trainings, we conducted our second yearly DEIB survey, which showed that Nitoreans were generally happy with the initial steps we had taken.

Key takeaway: successful DEIB work requires actively involved leadership

In the autumn of 2023, Inklusiiv provided us with a current state analysis to shed light on the plausible next steps. Even though we have managed to get the leadership buy-in for all presented DEIB initiatives so far, the key findings of Inklusiiv’s analysis showed that there is still room for improvement. In sum, for DEIB activities to be effective, mere leadership buy-in won’t suffice – leadership needs to drive the change together with the DEIB team.

In other words, we need to change the dynamics around DEIB initiatives. Our leadership needs to take a more active role by setting an example and telling the rest of the organization how they envision the future Nitorean working culture. This doesn’t need to be anything complicated. People tend to find appropriate inspiration in the words, thoughts, and examples set by leaders. That’s why I think that leadership more involved in DEIB would look to address and promote individual DEIB initiatives and values publicly. They would also try to find ways to participate in DEIB-related events and gatherings. To walk that extra mile to show that leadership acknowledges and values minorities, too.

Eventually, the goal must be that DEIB-related efforts at Nitor continue even without a dedicated team. This is why a key next step for us is to co-create a DEIB strategy together with Nitor’s leadership in autumn 2024, where they’ll play a central role in setting the goals for our DEIB work. Ideally, the strategy will also include some form of continuous budgetary allocation to ensure the continuity of Nitor’s diversity efforts.

DEIB work at Nitor has already resulted in numerous activities with positive outcomes, such as training for various groups, DEIB onboarding, and advancements in our internal documentation and communications. However, I believe that the most impactful change is that DEIB is now an active topic at Nitor, driven by a growing number of Nitoreans participating in conversations on the matter.

Once you see something, it cannot be unseen. I’m confident that once we have the courage to talk about diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging, and it becomes a familiar topic to the majority of the organization, it’ll be fundamentally easier to propose new DEIB initiatives in the future. We are more than engaged to continue and accelerate the change.

Skriven av

Erkko Vanhakartano
People Partner (på studieledighet)

Erkko is a solution-oriented people professional who focuses on recruitment, employer branding, and DEIB work. He has seven years of experience in tech recruitment in the Nordics. As a person, Erkko is a big fan of Negronis, all forms of art, and people who do things their own way.