There are a number of studies that show that Finnish labor markets suffer from racialization and discriminate against migrant women. See box story with key figures on migrants in the Finnish labor market here.
Migrant Tales spoke to three practical nurses that work for a large company in Helsinki. The name of the company will not be published in order to not reveal the identity of the practical nurses, who are all of African origin and who spoke on condition of anonymity.
If a representative of the Finnish media would like to expand on this story, they can get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There is overwhelming evidence through numerous studies, surveys even word of mouth that Finnish labor markets suffer from racialization and where especially migrant women face an uphill battle in finding work even if they have the same qualifications as their male counterparts.
The table above shows the educational background of 15-64-year-old migrants (ulkomaalaistaustainen) and Finns (suomalaistaustainen) who have completed tertiary education (korkea aste), upper secondary school (toinen aste) or comprehensive school (peruskoulu). Source: Survey on work and well-being among people of foreign origin.
One of the biggest challenges that visible migrants face in general, and women of African and Middle Eastern origin in particular, is whom to turn to if you are a victim of racism and discrimination at work. The Non-Discrimination Ombudsman doesn’t handle discrimination cases at work but the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in Finland (Työsuojelu) and union do. Even so, it doesn’t guarantee anything because you are explaining your case to white people as one of the practical nurses, called Maryan, said.
Another factor that doesn’t encourage Finland to take a more effective approach in tackling discrimination at the workplace is the political climate against migrants and cultural diversity.
New Alternative* speaker of parliament, Maria Lohela, is one such example of how politicians, who should know better, fuel such a hostile environment against people like Maryan Last year she blamed migrants for high unemployment rates.
Despite the fact that Lohela made a political career with her Islamophobic rhetoric, her disingenuous claim about the causes of high migrant unemployment highlights how some politicians wash their hands of the problem: It’s all the migrants’ fault.
One of the findings of the European Network Against Racism (ENAR) 2012-2013 shadow report on discrimination in employment in Finland was startling:
Data on labor market discrimination in Finland is sketchy and difficult to obtain. Although it is known and has been discussed in public that employers from both the public and private sectors are reluctant to hire immigrants, solid evidence is difficult to obtain.
Read the full shadow report here.
If this is true four years later since ENAR’s shadow report was published, the question we should ask is why such information continues to be so sketchy and difficult to obtain? Why hasn’t the media written more stories on the topic?
According to the practical nurses, migrants are a part of the problem as well since some are fearful of speaking out never mind know their rights. If the company treats its migrant and minority workers with contempt it will not encourage them to speak out and to learn what their rights are.
“That is why companies like ours hire them [migrants] because they are donkeys who don’t complain,” said one of the practical nurses.
Structural racism at the workplace