LGBTQ+ in Nordea

Hello everyone, my name is Nea-Stina! I am Finnish but living and working in Estonia at the moment. I started my career at Nordea in Finland, about six years ago. Most of my time in Nordea I have been working in customer service related positions and now I am a Team Leader in our Call Center located in Tallinn.

Banking was never my first career choice. In fact, I never had an interest in the financial sector before I started working at Nordea. It is easy to label people working in finance and I always felt like I was not going to fit into that role. I am the type of person who likes to stand up for what I believe in and be vocal about it so I was a bit worried to step into a more conservative working environment. But luckily I realized very soon that Nordea was not so old-fashioned place to work at that I thought it would be! It was an awesome realization when I first time felt like I could be just myself, in such an unpredictable place. I love to break stereotypes so working at Nordea turned out to be a perfect choice for me.

When being a spokeperson for diversity related topics as an employee, I want to make it clear that I don’t have any hidden agendas. When Employee Resource Group’s were established the first time, those group’s main purpose was to make sure that all the promises made in the companies annual handbooks and strategies regarding diversity and equality at work place, was fulfilled. And it still is. Especially during Pride, there is a lot of discussion of so called „Rainbow-washing“ which basically means that companies uses Pride as an PR opportunity and are not ready to really commit to make an impact, even in their own company. ERG’s are employee-led and driven groups so, we make sure that Diversity is not just a nice sounding word that is mentioned every now and then but actually any actions are never being made. Using the rainbow flag here and then will not make the work environment inclusive and supportive for your LGBTQ+ employees. It is a all year round work. And the work starts with increasing knowledge.

For me, the best part of Nordea is that people have the courage to speak up. Even though you work for a company, it doesn’t mean that you have to agree on everything that is happening there. I think questioning and challenging is a true form of caring, especially in corporate life. I don’t think „yes-persons“ are going to be the ones who change the world, it is the annoying critics who challenge corporates to change the way they do business.

I have many close friends from LGBTQ+ community so I guess it is a personal thing for me. I remember when my friend told me how he was beaten up as a child in school. Kids who beat him up thought he was „different and apparently gay“. When my friend’s parents took him to a hospital he had several broken ribs. He was 9 years old. Hearing that story was a turning point for me. When talking about LGBTQ+ people, the reason why their human rights are being oppressed is simply beacause of who they chose to love. Why could something as beautifull as love, create such a hatefull thoughts and actions on people?

I encourage you to start following different LGBTQ+-related accounts and influencers on social media. For me, that has been the easiest way to educate myself and stay up to date on things. I think it is important to learn from the queer people themselves directly. Listen their stories, learn and speak up when needed. Don’t settle to be a passive-bystander. For example, take action on your workplace and demand your leaders to hire a consultant or speaker. Make sure that diversity is not just a nice thought in your company but there is actually a real plan and strategy to make sure actions are made. Don’t be afraid to be the annoying critic! It is actually not that bad.