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Multicultural teams mean growth for Finnish startups

Having different kinds of people in the team is crucially important.

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Gender and cultural diversity have a direct effect on the productivity and profitability of companies, writes Anusha Ramakrishnan.

Gender equality discussions at workplaces have seen a significant rise all over the world, and rightfully so. On a global scale, we might have a lot of catching up to do in that aspect, but there are a lot of great things happening on this front within the Finnish startup ecosystem.

An action plan for gender equality for 2016–2019 was set up by the Finnish Government with the objective of creating equal opportunities in the labour market by reducing the gender pay gap and thereby increasing equal representation opportunities. Initiatives rolled out by the government, such as attracting international and local talent through gender-neutral equal opportunity campaigns, have set the ball rolling in the right direction.

This balance of gender also has an effect on the bottom line. As per McKinsey, a gender-diverse company is 15 per cent more likely to perform financially. The same study also points to another sound fact regarding the mix of employees: ethnically diverse companies are 35 per cent more likely to produce better financial results.

So, how does the local startup scene shape up in this regard?

One of the top peeves which many expats share about Finland is about job opportunities (or the perceived lack of them). Language is one of the biggest barriers that need to be crossed by almost all the international workers here. The startup ecosystem, however, has been more open to attracting and developing teams with a focus on highly talented international workers sans the language requirement. Tech startups that work towards providing solutions to problems which might be pertinent on a global scale are leaning towards building diverse teams. Attracting talent from different cultural backgrounds prep a fast-growing startup to scale globally at a quicker pace.

“Tech startups that work towards providing solutions to problems which might be pertinent on a global scale are leaning towards building diverse teams.”

Limited resources and funds make people in startups one of the top assets needed to move forward. A multicultural team ensures more languages, additional experiences and perspectives. This is one of the most important assets of diverse work teams, as it means different geographical markets are relatively easy to explore and accessible for early-stage startups.

An interesting study conducted at Harvard correlated diversity in leadership to market outcomes. An ethnically diverse team also means that the team members have had work experience in different countries, which most often translates to appreciating cultural differences, along with better problem-solving and sales skills. The benefits of a diverse staff include a vast meta-network from which the startup can greatly benefit.

Having different kinds of people in the team means thinking concretely about different kinds of stressors and opportunities. It would be very interesting to see how this approach to team building initiated by the startup world translates into more innovations, experiences and job opportunities in Finland in the next decade or so.


Photo: Rahul Pardasani

Anusha Ramakrishnan
Marketing manager at Grib