Equality, diversity and accessibility

We promote equality and diversity while preventing discrimination in all of our operations.

At the University of Helsinki, equality and diversity mean the equal and non-discriminating treatment of all members of the University community as well as the promotion of their study- and work-related wellbeing in such a manner that all members can proudly say that they belong to the world’s best academic community. Our goal is to be at the forefront of engendering an atmosphere respectful of diversity, as well as a healthy study and work environment.

The work is not yet done. Rather, we actively strive to further enhance the equality of our University community. We identify and remove practices and structures that create and sustain inequality. Our everyday activities and interaction are guided by the Strategic Plan of the University of Helsinki 2021–2030: With the power of knowledge – for the world and the University’s shared values: truth, Bildung, freedom and inclusivity.

Equality and, as a related factor, accessibility contribute to the quality of everyday life for the diverse and multilingual University community.

Goals and background – Boosted by genuine and responsible interaction

Equality is an issue that affects all University staff: teachers, researchers, support staff and specialist staff. Our equality efforts are based on the equality and diversity plan, the first of which was drawn up in the 1990s. The latest version of the plan is valid from 2021 to 2024. Its focus areas are:

  1. Promotion of inclusion and a thriving study and work culture 

We perceive inclusion from the perspectives of cultural sensitivity and anti-racism, equality of religion and belief, accessibility, special arrangements and equal assessment practices, and the promotion of equality of gender and sexual minorities. Tangible development measures include inclusion training as well as multilingualism and linguistic diversity. 

  1. Promotion of equal leadership work 

The promotion of equal leadership work relates to recruitment, salaries and career development, the status of fixed-term staff and grant-funded researchers, support for studying and teaching at units, the reconciliation of work, studies and personal life as well as the promotion of age equality. Tangible development measures include influencing the Academic Affairs Council and the Research Council. 

  1. Promotion of social equality efforts 

Sustainability and responsibility are evidenced in teaching and research. We employ gender studies as a tool for the enhancement of equality and develop continuous learning as a perspective to the promotion of equality.

Tangible development measures include active participation in the international LERU and UNA Europa networks as well as in the University’s Sustainability and Responsibility Committee.

Measures taken to promote equality and diversity

At the University, equality efforts are carried out in a genuine, responsible and interactive manner. In recent years, we have, among other things, conducted surveys and drawn up reports on the current status of equality and diversity and organised a range of events to raise awareness of related issues. These surveys and reports have also taken into consideration various staff groups and students. The results have been announced to the entire University community through various communication channels. The reports show that the University’s various individuals and institutions consider work for equality and diversity to be very important.

The events organised have included anti-racism training concerning implicit bias and a discussion session on bold role models at the University. In addition, the Minna Canth equality training (link in Finnish only) and Helsinki Pride events are part of our equality efforts.

Actions and events in 2021–2024 

In the coming years, we will organise inclusion training, highlight and clarify our language policy as well as make our recruitment process increasingly open and equal. We will continue to hold discussions on various themes and take part in Helsinki Pride, in addition to which we will provide staff with training concerning special study-related arrangements for students. 

Equal­ity and di­versity com­mit­tee

The Equality and Diversity Committee is a body under the vice-rector, representing the whole spectrum of the University community. The members of the Committee are appointed to include representatives of different genders, all staff groups of the University, students, and members of the University community of different ages as well as groups with particular insight or experience regarding equality issues.

The Committee’s duties are to 

  • Promote the achievement of the objectives outlined in the Act on Equality between Women and Men and the Non-Discrimination Act, monitor the development of equality at the University and report on it;
  • Influence the University community so as to strengthen pro-equality attitudes, opinions and structures at the University; and 
  • Prepare an equality and non-discrimination plan as specified in the Act on Equality between Women and Men and the Non-Discrimination Act. 

The Committee chair is Vice-Rector Tom Böhling. The Committee secretary is Equality Advisor Timo Valtonen. In matters pertaining to equality, you can write to tasa-arvovastaava@helsinki.fi

In addition, the University has equality and accessibility contact persons working in HR Services and Teaching and Learning Services. The University has also appointed harassment contact persons. Further information can be requested by writing to hrd@helsinki.fi.