Diversity is key

“My work as a development consultant for the city has allowed me to focus on a theme that is very important to me: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI),” says Hannah King of the City of Helsinki’s Social Services and Healthcare Division. King plans and executes on-the-job training programmes in DEI and digital skills for the division’s almost 15,000 employees.

“My interest in DEI stems in part from my own background, as I was raised in a multi-cultural family. My mom is Finnish and my dad is from the Gambia. I witnessed first-hand how difficult navigating services can be if you don’t have a good sense of what is going on around you,” King says. The Helsinki City Strategy has committed to developing social and health services in a more customer-oriented manner in order to be accessible to Helsinki inhabitants of all backgrounds.

Part of this effort is to recruit more non-Finnish speakers. King says the city is sorely in need of employees with varying cultural competences: “The more our personnel look like the people we are serving, the better services we can provide, because we would then have a better understanding of different cultures, languages and religions.”

She points out that several studies have observed that organisations with a more diverse staff are more productive. Their workers also report better job satisfaction.

The effects of the current reorganisation of social and health service administration will also be seen in Helsinki, even though the city is exempt from many of the major changes. King assures city residents that services will be more equitable and easier to access as a result. King’s second major area of professional interest, digitalisation, is a fundamental part of this process.

“Just like all people are different, so are their service needs. The new e-services will not replace face-to-face appointments, but instead give Helsinki residents more flexible options for accessing the services they need. We are so fortunate to live in Helsinki, where there is such a wide range of help available. The important thing is that people can find and use this help easily,” she says.

Learn more about Helsinki’s e-services like Maisa and Omaolo at omaolo.fi and hel.fi/en Social services and health care A–Z Electronic services The Maisa Portal.