ENAR Shadow Report 2012-2013 - Racism and related discriminatory practices in employment in Finland
Tämänkertainen ENARin rasismiraportti keskittyy työelämään, joten se on suoraan sanoen hyvin puuduttavaa luettavaa. Tyylin muutoksesta kertoo paljon se, että entistä ENAR-raporttien suosikki-inhottavaa, Jussi Halla-ahoa, ei mainita raportissa lainkaan. "True Finns"-puolue (Perussuomalaisten englanninkielinen nimi on ollut "The Finns" vuodesta 2011, kun taas "True Finns" ei ole ollut koskaan puolueen virallinen nimi) ja "sawmill owner" Teuvo Hakkarainen sentään vilahtavat.
Raportin on koostanut pitkän tauon jälkeen monitaitaja Percy Mashaire
. Hän on muun muassa sisällyttänyt raporttiin osion, jossa haastattelee asiantuntijaa, jollaiseksi on sattumoisin valikoitunut Jonna Roos, jonka kanssa Mashaire kirjoitti vuoden 2008 raportin
. Tämänkertaisen rasismiraportin lähteinä on käytetty muun muassa Enrique Tessierin Migrant Tales -sivustoa...
Traditionally, Finland has maintained a tight immigration policy, but the realization that the country
needs foreign workers to offset the economic effects of an ageing population, has compelled
authorities to cautiously open the door. The number of immigrants is increasing, and, slowly but
inexorably, Finland is becoming a multicultural society in the employment, education and social
Compared to about 20 years ago, when the first group of Somali immigrants came into a rather
hostile country buffeted by a bitter recession, overt forms of racist behaviour such as verbal abuse
and physical violence have been on the decline. On the other hand, however, covert or indirect
racism is an everyday reality. Finnish employers are still reluctant to hire non-white immigrants from
non-Western countries. They are equally reluctant to employ Russian speaking immigrants and
members of the Roma community, who speak Finnish as a mother tongue, and have lived in the
country for over 500 years.
The standard argument given by employers for not hiring immigrants is that the latter cannot speak
Finnish. However, the validity of this argument is questionable because many of the jobs performed
by migrants, such as cleaning, do not require Finnish language proficiency.
Racism is a reality in the lives of ethnic and religious minorities in Finland. The extent and
manifestations of this fact are often unknown and undocumented, especially with regard to official
data sources. As a consequence, it can be difficult to analyse the situation and to establish solutions.
Even when there is extensive official data, NGOs offer a vital alternative data source which comes
directly from the experiences of individuals and communities experiencing racism on a daily basis.
Higher educated immigrants also find it difficult to get jobs corresponding to their level of education
on the Finnish labour market. Although there are no figures for their unemployment rate, there are hundreds
of engineers, doctors and lawyers working as bus or taxi drivers and cleaners.
A good documented example of discrimination based on foreign origin is reported in the 2012 report
from the Ministry of Employment and the Economy. The report, for instance, noted that 26% of
Finnish-named applicants were called for an interview compared to 13 % of Russian-named
applicants. In practice, this means that a person with a Russian name has to send twice as many
applications than a similarly qualified Finnish-named person in order to be called for a job interview.
Using the net discrimination rate (NDR) index, (the net discrimination rate is the percentage
difference between non-discriminated groups and those likely to be discriminated most) this
means that a person with a Russian name is discriminated in 45% of the recruitment situations.
Rather than discussing labour market discrimination and racism, the media, particularly on social forums,
regularly lambasts immigrants for being lazy, and dependent on welfare.
Like many other Westerners, Finns are reluctant to openly express their xenophobic racist attitudes.
The prevalence of social media forums, where participants can anonymously express their intolerant
views, reveals the prevalence of racist hate speech.
The groups, which are most vulnerable to racism in Finland are the Roma, Sami, and visible migrant
minorities, such as the Somalis, who are constantly maligned and denigrated in racist-oriented web
discussion forums and social media platforms. Russian speakers are also quite often the targets of
xenophobic verbal attacks.
Unemployment is also quite high among Russian speaking immigrants. The main reason for this is
the deep level of mistrust and suspicion that exists between Finland and its giant eastern neighbour.
From 1809 to 1917, Finland was an autonomous province of the Russian Empire. During the Second
World War, Finland aligned itself with Nazi Germany and fought against the Soviet Union. In general,
Russian speaking immigrants in Finland are regarded with mistrust and suspicion bordering on
One of the most limiting factors to the recruitment of migrants in Finland is the attitude of the
employers. Because of its geographical location and climate, for centuries, Finland has been isolated
from much of the world. The population, up until recently, has remained fairly homogenous and
viewed the rest of the world with a mixture of suspicion and anxiety. In general, Finnish employers, in
both private and public institutions, are still reluctant to hire foreigners, particularly non-white
migrants. (There are cases where an employer has had to seek the approval of native employees to
hire an immigrant worker) The official reason often given by employers for not hiring migrant
employees is that the latter cannot speak Finnish - a not so convincing excuse given that many of the
occupations relegated to foreigners, such as cleaning, do not necessarily require mastery of the
Although there are no legal restrictions to wearing religious symbols in Finland, visible ethnic-
religious dress symbols, such as those worn by, for instance, Muslim and Roma women (Unlike the
Roma in other European countries, the Finnish Roma have retained their own distinct dress forms,
which include long, black shirts for women and white shirts and black trousers for men) sometimes
serve to aggravate suspicion bordering on hostility, and virtually precludes the wearer out of the job
market. There are no separate unemployment figures for the Finnish Roma, but according to some
unofficial estimates, their unemployment rate is as high as 90%.
The case of a Sikh bus driver, Gill Sukhdarshan Singh, from the City of Vantaa, provides a good
example of this phenomenon. In February 2013, Singh’s employer prohibited him from wearing his
turban, arguing that it was not part of his work wear and that it would upset some passengers. Singh
argued that no passenger or his work colleagues had complained and appealed to the Office of the
Ombudsman for Minorities. In late June, the Southern Finland Regional State Administrative Agency
ruled that the bus company’s ban on wearing the turban was discriminatory because it placed the
plaintiff in an unfavourable position due to his religion. The agency ordered the bus company to
redress the problem by September. Obviously afraid of victimisation or losing his job (in one
interview, he had intimated his plan to buy a house), Gill announced that he would not wear the
turban, after all. The story, naturally, triggered animated discussions on social media sites, particularly
those frequented by xenophobic, anti-immigrant groups. It also made the headlines in India, his
country of origin.
Interviewee: Jonna Roos (JR), multiculturalism expert at the University of Helsinki, trainer and activist
Interviewer: Percy Mashaire (PM), teacher, journalist, translator.
Slowly, and perhaps, agonizingly, Finland is gradually coming to terms with people from different
cultural and religious traditions who are trying to make this northernmost outpost their home.
Second generation migrants, fluent in Finnish, are increasingly being found as doctors in hospitals,
lawyers in prestigious law firms and engineers in companies such as Nokia. Workplaces, schools and
sport fields can be seen to be more representative of the increasingly diverse Finnish society.
But old habits die hard. Many still refer to any dark skinned person as an ulkomalainen or foreigner
although the individual may have born in Finland or has acquired Finnish citizenship. Even more
disturbing is the continual rise in popularity of the anti-EU and anti- immigrant True Finns party,
which is currently the third most popular political party and could enter government after the 2015
elections. Members of the party such as sawmill owner, Teuvo Hakkarainen, still continue to make
inflammatory racist statements against migrants, particularly Muslims. Recently he wrote that
Muslims were like a Trojan horse in European society waiting for the call to jihad.
There is therefore an urgent need to condemn racism, promote tolerance and sensitize Finns to the
benefits of a multicultural society.