Dear Peer, you can be whoever you are

Annika Packalén, June 30, 2022

You are your work culture

I have always wanted to treat people equally. I’m only half Finnish and I was born abroad, in Latin America to be more precise. I came to Finland in the 90’s as an immigrant. I was an outsider. Different. Not included. Time has passed and I’m lucky enough to feel privileged to have double citizenship.

Diversity and inclusion are very close to my heart. Since becoming a parent, I feel an even bigger need to pay attention to what I teach to my children. How to treat people with respect and without assumptions. Freeing their mind from stereotypes. Achieving this has not been always easy, but I try my best.

I want to enhance the word try. That is all you need. The will to try and to learn. In my employer branding role, my stakeholders are all the people inside and outside the company. I kid you not: Every. Single. Human.

My job is to engage them. I both need and want to connect with them. Every encounter is special, and I want to do it with respect. And this is what I want to bring to our work culture. Appreciation and respect towards every human.


What can I do?

I am by no means perfect. But, I am committed to creating a safe environment where people can be who they are. If the person is on a self-discovery journey, they need to feel safe to feel confused about themselves while they are still learning. I wouldn’t want anyone to feel the need to pretend to be something they are not because of shame or fear. I want to better myself and my actions every day to contribute to creating an accepting culture with psychological safety.

Trying always includes failing. I probably won’t always find the right words in every situation. But those are natural growing pains. Change doesn’t happen in our comfort zone. I know, cliché, but it’s true. I often find myself overthinking it, but maybe that isn’t so bad. It leads to different scenarios in my head. Questioning current functioning models. Finding new ways of thinking. Changing the mindset requires introspection. It needs and even requires will. Actual activation.


What can you do to contribute?

Listen. You need to listen.

Either listen and learn, or listen and educate. It is that simple to get started. Open your mind for those who want to learn and help create a safe environment for them to make mistakes. As I said earlier, trying and learning includes inevitably making mistakes. We all have an important role, whether are you the one educating or you are the one learning. We all need a safe space because, dear peer, you and your colleagues can be whoever you want to be.


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