As Pride month is ending, Xamk would like to remind everyone on the importance of equality and human rights. Promoting equality and equity is a task for the whole higher education community. Thus, during the spring, Xamk’s staff and students have participated in developing and implementing several related initiatives.

Xamk wants to promote equality also more widely. Thus, we have acted as sponsors in local Pride events: Kotka Pride on June 17th and the first ever Hamina Pride on June 18th. Cooperation with local events continues later in the fall.

Implementing new tools: ethical principles, equality workshops and responsibility orientation

This spring, the most important action to support equality was the drafting of Xamk’s own ethical principles. The principles were published in May. The principles were developed in cooperation with staff and students and their main themes include treating everyone with respect, promoting equality, valuing diversity, treating everybody equally and zero tolerance for discrimination.

During spring, staff and student representatives were also invited to participate in equality workshops, the goal of which was to find out how to improve inclusion and take into consideration people from sexual and gender minorities in the higher education community. Based on the workshops, staff orientation has been updated and new communications activities have been planned. We are also drafting Xamk’s own principles for safer place as well as planning a survey of different campus facilities and their accessibility and equality.

In addition, Xamk has introduced responsibility orientation for staff members. Responsibility orientation guides staff members to use inclusive language and ensure representation in, for example, educational material and communications. In the future, the goal is also to increase the skills of superiors and management in the field of inclusion, diversity, and equality.

It is not enough to just tolerate – we must accept our differences and cherish and respect diversity

One important step to promote inclusion and prevent discrimination is to break down prejudices and assumptions. Unconscious biases, assumptions and norms are often the main barriers to diversity and inclusion.

We all have unconscious biases and challenging them requires conscious action. In honor of Pride week and in the name of inclusion, we should all review and recognize our prejudices, analyze what they are based on and try to break them down in our everyday lives.