Student life acts as a foundation for working life. Every experience of inclusion, every networking opportunity, and every connection can help in the transition to working life. That is why it is so crucial student unions promote inclusion and equity, as well as teach and uphold inclusive values. TEK acknowledged the power and responsibility they had and set out to advance their student culture.
A large community of current and future professionals
Tekniikan Akateemiset TEK, is a Finnish trade union of university-educated engineers, architects, and scientists. The organization has around 100 employees and a professional community of over 77,000 members. TEK aims to support its members in the transition to working life with networking events and legal, salary, and career advice.
Acknowledging improvement areas in student unions
Trade unions act as a voice for their community. Naturally, challenges arise in accurately representing the diversity that comes with 70,000 members. Additionally, educating the whole community on inclusive practices is crucial yet demanding without help.
What set TEK apart was that they publicly acknowledged that clubs and unions can indeed be exclusive in leaving out, for example, female students, international students, and other underrepresented groups. Moreover, once sexist and inappropriate remarks were identified as a part of some of their events and internal channels, TEK was compelled to take action.
TEK sets out to find a solution
They decided to invest in a holistic approach including data collection, trainings, and other awareness tools for its largest groups of students located in Tampere. TEK partnered up with Inklusiiv, an organization specializing in DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion).
”We were already somewhat familiar with the DEI expertise at Inklusiiv, so they were a natural partner for us to help to improve our student culture. ” -Vesa Taskinen, Membership Officer, TEK
Inklusiiv proposed a holistic approach, consisting of qualitative data collection on student experiences, leadership trainings, an open keynote for all students, and a booklet with inclusive practices. TEK decided to offer this training to all the student leaders in order to advance them in inclusive practices.
TEK saw amazing results
“Co-operation with Inklusiiv on this project was a pleasure and it brought such understanding to TEK that I doubt we could have achieved by ourselves.” -Vesa Taskinen, Membership Officer, TEK
The collaboration resulted in interactive discussions. Based on the data from the 10 interviews, new ways to improve TEK’s communication and practices were identified. Now TEK is set on its path to continue transferring DEI knowledge and best practices to future student leaders with the help of the booklet.
Moreover, the open keynote also encouraged students to take an active role in advancing inclusion. This can be done by believing others’ experiences and speaking up if you witness inappropriate behavior. Being a part of creating codes of conduct for groups and clubs and advocating for new inclusive policies for events and everyday activities can help make all the difference. After all, inclusion is everyone’s responsibility.
Ready to jump straight in? Reach out to: firstname.lastname@example.org.