Diversity is base of everything

Lassi Määttä 13.10.2022

Lassi Määttä

Anxiety. This was my first feeling when thinking about the world's political situation and the topic of my next blog. Soon I realized that I could not write and express my thoughts about anything that did not somehow relate to the war going on in Ukraine. 

We are facing fundamental questions. How do we show solidarity, diversity, compassion and equality between individuals and people in this endless turmoil? When nations and states go to war, confrontations and situations escalate and divide people into groups who have different opinions and views. It breaks family ties as well as trade relations between countries. Constructive dialogue steps aside and is replaced by purely emotional reactions, which in the end, is very human.

In this situation, we, as managers and supervisors, are responsible for leading the conversation in the right direction. It won't only concern our thoughts and views towards Russians or people of Russian background, but on a broader scale, all our thinking towards diversity.

For example, how do we see the people and experts coming here from other parts of the world? Do we tolerate diversity, or could we be capable of true equality or even appreciate diversity?

We should treat everyone equally regardless of their background

The Russian minority living in Finland has undoubtedly received its share of prejudices. Russia's actions have already led to worse, affecting relationships between individuals. But where will it lead if we follow the same road as our neighbour? Is this one of the goals of the Russian regime and Putin? Evil and terror take over and moves to interactions between people. I admit the topic is complicated. But a little reflection and introspection say a lot about our way of thinking.

I do not feel sympathy toward Russia; on the contrary, I firmly stand with Ukraine. The current Russian administration is not capable of peace. At the same time, it is a reminder of how incitement to hatred, racism, discrimination, and inequality have been effective ways to rule or break up societies throughout the ages. That is what dictators and totalitarianism aim for. Even if they disguise their goals as good, we know our history and understand this is not the case. 

All of us should promote good

In the big picture, all this challenges us more than ever to consider whether we are faithful supporters of equality. In this challenging situation, can we defend human rights, the borders and integrity of our own country, and our willingness to live in a democracy? This is everything what Western culture represents at its best. 

I see that it is necessary to find a bridge between these things. The only way to defeat evil is to guide and return our thinking to believing in good and promote it. Everyone can do it as an individual and in encounters between individuals.

The Dutch historian and writer Rutger Bregman also thinks this radically and believes that most people are good and want good. We people should demand a little more from ourselves. The great poet-writer of our history, Eino Leino, thought the same in Smiling Apollo (non-official translation) "...No person is bad, but one is weaker than the other. There's a lot of good in everyone's chest, even if it doesn't always shine through..." 

Responsibility also requires a change of thinking

Would it be possible to think that those of us in the management and decision-making positions of companies could try to act as an example? Not as perfect, not free from mistakes, but as people who nevertheless have more opportunities to influence things than many others.

That doesn't mean forgetting about realism. It does not mean running after some ideology blindly. But tomorrow at work, it can mean that I won't think badly of anyone. The hardest part is changing your thinking, but when we do, actions often follow.

Maybe then responsibility promoted by companies is not just an empty bell that rings without concreteness.