Solita Culture – Part 1: Come as you are

Outi Sivonen Chief Human Resources Officer, Solita

Published 11 Nov 2021

Reading time 5 min

Business Anthropologist Simon Roberts said that culture is not something that can be written down, it has to be lived and experienced. However, as we can’t invite everyone for a coffee, we’d like to welcome you to get to know our company culture with this blog series on aspects important to our community.

By writing down our people’s experiences on our culture, we’d like to offer you a view on how people at Solita see our company, community, and its growth. Culture is not a museum, it is an ever evolving experience, built on experiences both in history and present. The topics in the blog series will be diving into diversity, autonomy and professionalism, freedom of opinions and courage, experiments and learning, an easy-going atmosphere, and putting life and people first.

Diversity and inclusion – ‘Come as you are’ in practice

“Did you ever have to think in the morning on your way to work, if people will first see you as a woman and only second as a professional? If your presentation has to be super, for people to appreciate you first and foremost as a professional?” Well, I have, when I was a young woman. You might argue that it is my problem, not a topic around inclusion, but I’ll argue back.

I think the first step in developing inclusion is to acknowledge that we face working life differently, because of our gender, cultural background – and naturally because we are all different.

The cultural aspect of diversity and inclusion is perhaps the most important phenomenon currently sweeping the cultural landscape of companies. Hopefully, all the workplaces are digging deep into their demographics. How diverse is the community? Which groups are over/underrepresented, and how does that affect our thinking, competencies, experienced sense of equality, and even innovation. How different people feel about the language we use, the jokes we make, the tone of voice we have, the things we raise or don´t raise.

The non-inclusive behavior is usually not deliberate, but the consequence is the same: the feeling of being excluded.

Inclusivity is easy as long as all employees of the company speak the same language, live in the same area, share the same study background, hobbies, interests, mindsets, and so on. It is only when you start to grow diversity that it might get more challenging. At Solita we are reminding ourselves of the importance of awareness in increasing our diversity – the first thing in promoting diversity and inclusion is the identification of the facts. If you haven’t experienced discrimination (nor your friend John or Mary), it does not mean that it does not exist.

We want everyone to feel they can be who they are.

At Solita, which is growing steadily in 6 countries, we currently have 34 different nationalities, and our gender balance is 76% male, 23% female, and 1% not declared. We have people from a bit over 20 to over 60 of age, and our people have hundreds of different educational backgrounds. Our diversity is a wonderful strength and working in a multicultural environment makes life more fun and interesting.

So, what are we doing to continuously raise awareness? We have invested in training to all Solitans, and we are further developing our recruitment to promote diversity and inclusion (recently adding diversity promise to our job ads). We are also continuously studying how Solitans feel about these topics in our biweekly surveys. The figures (below) show the situation of feeling of equality on company level is good – but obviously, there are still things to be done.

For example language can cause a strong experience of social exclusion. At Solita we are using English as our common company language, but local languages are used in smaller communities or sites, to support both community of communities as well as inclusion.

We have also wanted to increase our open communications culture and “discussion on discussion”. In open to everyone discussions we have shared our views on how inclusive our people feel our discussion culture is. Our average score on a scale of 0-10 to the question “I feel that our discussion culture at Solita promotes diversity, acceptance of everyone, equality, and inclusion” is 8.6.

We have set clear DEI targets (diversity, equality, and inclusion) and formed an internal working group from volunteer Solitans around the topic.

I think the most crucial thing in developing diversity and inclusion in a community is listening, to truly understand different groups and people.

You cannot know how it feels to be part of a minority without deep discussions and exposing yourself to different thinking. And that can happen only by meeting new people, reaching out from your own circle of peers, and asking that new person to join for lunch, even if that would mean a bit of stretching in your mind.

Diversity & inclusion in action

  1. We are focusing on gender balance in our hiring and actively working to eliminate unconscious biases in our hiring processes. We are also adding Diversity Promise to our job ads at Duunitori.
  2. We are participating actively in networks that improve women’s position in the ICT industry.
  3. We are increasing our collaboration with universities and other educational institutions, with the aim of making ICT more accessible to women.
  4. We are investing heavily into career and development possibilities and are actively working to ensure diverse participation.
  5. We have launched Solita Women FWD, an internal forum for advancing gender equality and highlighting industry role models.
  6. We are training all of our team leads, project managers, and directors to understand cognitive biases and to promote diversity.
  7. From the beginning of 2022 onwards, diversity and inclusivity training will be available to all Solita employees and we’re including it in our onboarding process.
  8. We have established a diversity and inclusion working group that consists of Solitans.
  9. During 2021, we are scrutinizing our salaries to avoid any imbalances related to gender.
  10. We’re working actively to ensure a more diverse representation in our company blogs, social media presence, and other communications.
  11. We have launched a diversity status dashboard that is accessible to all Solita employees.
We are always looking for talented professionals to join us. Check out our open positions!

Read all parts of Outi’s culture blog series

Part 1: Come as you are

Part 2: Autonomy and professionalism

Part 3: Freedom of opinions and power of words in the organisation

Part 4: Learning is a skill – and it can be learned

Part 5: An easy-going cultural atmosphere embraces love over fear

Part 6: Humane working culture and healthy business – do they go hand in hand?

  1. Culture