In this week’s episode, Petra sat down to talk with Priyanka Banerjee, diversity coach and CEO of Businesswiz. Her company offers services and training to help Finnish companies improve their diversity and inclusivity.
Priyanka came to Finland from India in early 2016 when one of her IT company’s clients from Finland offered her a job in Finland. Despite the learning curve and ups and downs of living in Finland, Priyanka is glad that she made the decision to take the plunge.
“I have been an IT consultant for most of my life, but I have also worked with diverse individuals from around the globe,” she says. “There is something that was missing in the sense that there were some micro-aggressions at work. People have biases against women in color working in tech.”
To help fix this problem, she quit her corporate job and began working on raising awareness about inclusion. She decided that she would rather work with existing companies on improving diversity than begin her own company. Priyanka believes that diversity and inclusion are especially important in Finland, due to the talent gap driving a need for international workers and the small size of the market; in other words, she recognises that companies looking to grow need to internationalize and learn to work with international people in order to succeed.
“At the moment there is such a huge gap, because we have a lot of talent and we have a lot of demand, but somehow they are not matched.”
When she arrived in Finland, Priyanka noticed that there was a lack of conversation surrounding diversity in Finnish businesses. She understood that her first challenge would be approaching the topic and making the case for diversity to businesses operating in Finland. In the last few years, she has seen a growing awareness of the benefits of internationalization among companies in Finland.
When asked for the most common advice Priyanka shares with her clients, she stressed the need to educate company teams and leaders and the importance of making a commitment to understanding diversity and inclusion. She says that individual company team members also need to understand their own biases and privileges without being ashamed.
“It is perfectly normal, because all of us have biases,” she says. “It is important to think of it not as a stigma but as learning about yourself.”
Priyanka notes that the success of Finnish companies in terms of work-life balance and national happiness can lead employers to overlook issues that may be preventing them from reaching their objectives. She also emphasizes that, like any other product or service, inclusion is an investment that needs to be prioritized. Awareness, assessment, and action.
Give a listen to the episode twenty-one and learn more about Priyanka and her mission.