Finnish National Study

Executive summary

Gender equality has long been a core value in Finland. It is enshrined in the Constitution and, more specifically, in the Act on Equality between Women and Men (Equality Act 609/1986), effective since 1987. The objectives of this Act are to prevent discrimination based on gender, to promote equality between women and men, and, thus, to improve the status of women, particularly in working life.

If the number of personnel working for the employer on a regular basis is, at least, 30, the employer must draw up a gender equality plan, at least every second year. The content of the plan shall be primarily concerned with pay and other terms of employment. The gender equality plan may be incorporated into a personnel and training plan or an occupational safety and health action plan.

The composition of municipal boards and committees must be in accordance with a statutory 40– 60% quota requirement. The Corporate Governance Code of the listed companies in Finland states that both genders shall be represented on the board. In 2014, women held 20.7% of executive management team positions. In large listed companies, women held 29 % of directorships, 23% in mid-caps and 20% in small caps, the overall figure being 23%.

Promotion opportunities in both enterprises are limited, due to their low hierarchy and their organization structure are limited, unless persons leave the organization or retire. Equality in promotions is supported by the top management in both enterprises.
Based on the interviews, quotas are not seen as a solution for gender equality. Competence, personality and professional skills are seen to be the most important factors, when recruiting personnel.
Official gender equality plans are being processed in both companies. In the conventional enterprise, thanks to the interviews, the process was speeded up and they have drawn up a gender equality plan.
Training, suitable for the job, is well-supported and financed in both organizations. They also offer workplace health promotion, occupational health care, support family friendly arrangements and working from home. Both have their own principals in giving bonuses to their personnel.

A systematic work evaluation process, based on certain criteria, is lacking in both organizations, because of varied jobs. In development discussions/performance appraisals, which managers have with their subordinates, evaluations are carried out, how subordinates have succeeded in the job. At a managerial level, business results are compared to the budget, which concerns both male and female managers.
Both companies apply collective agreements by trade unions, which regulate field-specific terms of employment, like wages, enabling equality in wages in the same job. An exception is the top management (i.e. Managing Directors) with executive work contracts, where wages are negotiable and they have no fixed working time, acc. to the Contracts of Employment Act.

Social enterprise has a female majority of employees and in the conventional enterprise, the majority is men. The same applies to the Management, which indicates vertical segregation in both companies. In addition, horizontal segregation can be identified in both organizations, as some professional fields are more female or male dominated.

Nevertheless, gender equality is a natural part of the work culture in both companies. There are differences in evaluation, as in the conventional enterprise more emphasis is on profitability, whether employees have managed to increase profitability. In the social enterprise, results are only compared to the budget at the managerial level.

In Finland, actions to improve gender equality have a long history. In 1892, the Feminist Association Unioni was founded to fight for women’s right to vote, which was achieved in 1906. Along the years, women’s positions have improved in society and the number of women e.g. in political decision-making have increased. Today’s legislation also supports gender equality in working life and it is well monitored.