Socially sustainable everyday life at the University

We are creating an increasingly socially sustainable everyday life at the University by continuously taking action to promote equality, diversity and accessibility.
Equality, diversity and accessibility at the University

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 our shared values: truth, Bildung, freedom and inclusivity.

Equality and diversity efforts at the University are promoted by the Equality and Diversity Committee, headed by one of the vice-rectors and representing the diversity of the University.

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 – and students.

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 as follows:

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.

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. 

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 wide range of individuals and institutions at the University consider work for equality and diversity to be very important.

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

From 2021 to 2024 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 study-related individual arrangements for students.

Accessibility at the University

Our University strives to enhance its services, facilities and operations so that they will be suitable for all.

We comply with the principles of equality, non-discrimination and inclusion. Inclusion means accommodating all, as a matter of course, so that everyone can participate equally in any activity.

At present, the level of accessibility is good with regard to physical disabilities, and each new project or renovation at the University aims to further enhance accessibility.

An accessible environment does not differentiate between people based on their ability to move and function. In an accessible environment, everyone can function equally well, regardless of factors relating to eyesight, hearing, mobility, age or other personal characteristics.

In addition, the means used to promote accessibility at the University include the following:

  • The various needs of people with disabilities must be considered in all planning as part of the diversity of humanity. This entails the removal of all barriers, whether physical obstacles, prejudiced attitudes or hindrances to communication.
  • The University offers support for disabled students and employees in integrating into the academic community and in acquiring the necessary aids and learning materials. An employee may, together with the head of the unit, explore possibilities for individual arrangements and their implementation.
  • The University provides academic advice, including advice regarding individual examination arrangements or the substitution of studies. Advice is also available to the teaching staff and the non-academic staff.
  • As part of the public administration sector, the University complies with the Web Accessibility Directive of the EU: “The promotion of accessibility plays a key role in the digitalisation of public administration services. Accessibility here means that webpages and mobile applications as well as their content are such that they can be used and understood by everyone.” (Source of the quotation: Ministry of Finance
Fairtrade University

We have been a Fairtrade University since 2013.

In autumn 2012, students took the initiative to apply for a Fairtrade title for the university, and the management took up the proposal. Supporting Fairtrade is a concrete way to support sustainable development and make procurement practices more responsible.

As a Fairtrade University, we are committed to promoting the use and availability of Fairtrade certified products in our procurement and to raising awareness of Fairtrade and its importance in global production and consumption relations.

Fair Trade coffee and tea

Thousands of cups of coffee and tea are consumed at the University every day, so the choice of brand matters. The coffee and tea served at official University events is always Fairtrade certified. The selection has been agreed with Unicafe, Compass Group and Sodexo.

HYY Restaurants supplies more than half of all coffee and tea served at University premises and events. The aim of all the contracted restaurants is to increase the range of Fairtrade products available in their establishments.

The Fairtrade team is planning activities

The Fairtrade team plans and implements the University of Helsinki's Fairtrade activities, such as communication, campaign weeks and theme days. It is responsible for planning and monitoring the implementation of the University's Fair Trade strategy. The team includes representatives of the University's restaurants and university services, research and teaching staff, and students. The work is carried out in cooperation with the Student Union of the University of Helsinki and restaurant operators. 

Responsible employer and educator

We foster democracy and genuine diversity in the work community, based on respect and cooperation.