Akava: A comprehensive programme is needed to advance equality

Approximately one third of highly educated respondents between the ages of 18–35 have observed inappropriate treatment or discrimination towards sexual and gender minorities in places of study or the workplace.


This information was attained from the Akava Works survey conducted by Aula Research in spring 2023.

The results of the survey showed that young adults have observed clearly more inappropriate treatment than those over the age of 35. The observed inappropriate treatment or discrimination took the form of, for example, verbal abuse, offensive words, inappropriate joking and bullying. Men have observed inappropriate treatment more often than women.

The Government must draft a programme to advance equality and non-discrimination

“We must ensure the improved position of underrepresented groups in working life, such as sexual and gender minorities. The majority needs more information about human diversity to reduce prejudice against minorities. The Government must draft a comprehensive programme to advance equality and non-discrimination. The attitudes of decision-makers affect society as a whole”, emphasises Maria Löfgren, President of Akava.

Non-discrimination in workplaces benefits everyone

“Employers are obligated by law to take action against discrimination. Furthermore, employers must promote gender equality and non-discrimination in a purposeful and systematic manner by developing work methods and working conditions. The good news is that in more than one third of the cases, the workplace or educational institution had addressed the observed inappropriate treatment and managed to stop it”, states Miika Sahamies, Senior Advisor.

The themes of the survey conducted by Aula Research for Akava Works focused on, among others, well-being and coping, values and attitudes in working life, and future prospects. The survey was answered by a total of 1,511 highly-educated respondents. Of the respondents, altogether 1,002 were between the ages of 18–35 and 509 represented the control group of highly educated between the ages of 36–65.

The most common reasons for the problem not being resolved was that the situation was not brought to the attention of the employer or educational institution (25%), or the situation was unable to be resolved despite awareness of the problem (18%). In a small percentage of the cases (9%), no action was taken to end the discrimination despite awareness of the problem.

“On the basis of the survey study, respondents of all ages view increased information and open discussion to be two of the important ways to advance the position of sexual and gender minorities in working life and education. Attitude changes are essential, but they also need to be backed by the strong protection of the law. Sexual and gender minorities must have equal rights to participate in employment and education without worry or fear of discrimination or other inappropriate treatment”, Sahamies adds.

Akava has participated in the preparation of the changes to the Non-Discrimination Act. The changes, which enter into force on 1 June 2023, are intended to strengthen the legal protection of those affected by discrimination.

“Once the legislative changes enter into force, the authority of the Non-Discrimination Ombudsman will also extend to the supervision of working life, and the promotion and planning obligations regarding equality will extend to early childhood education. Additionally, the definition of harassment will change and the duty of education providers to intervene in cases of harassment will be reinforced”, states Sahamies.

Akava and its affiliates are actively advocating for equality and non-discrimination in working life through their Avoin tiedolle (Open to information) campaign. The Akava community’s campaign emphasises the significance of information, understanding and learning to an equal and non-discriminatory working life.

Contact information

Maria Löfgren, President of Akava, tel. +358 (0)40 568  2798

Miika Sahamies, Senior Advisor, tel. +358 (0)50 530 5366