27.6.2022 Article

At Paulig, human rights, equality and fair and inclusive way of working are in our core. That’s why for us, partnering up with Helsinki Pride means so much more than using rainbow themed imagery. Pride, as a concept, reflects and advocates the change that Paulig as a company has always seen a key part of social sustainability and strives to be part of advancing.  

Paulig is again one of the proud partners of the Helsinki Pride 2022, Finland’s largest culture and human rights event focused on the sexual and gender minorities. 

The event’s theme is “Encounters” this year. I find it quite fitting in many ways. It definitely feels current when reflected against the turbulences of the recent years, from the isolation during the pandemic to the shared worries of the ongoing war.  

Working life needs more open discussions 

Issues with gender and sexual minority discrimination have taken leaps forward. However, the work is yet far from done. Still, many companies might be keen to advertise their support of the Pride movement but how many of them live by the values it encompasses? It’s fairly easy to write down in your sustainability programme that you are committed to combating discrimination and treating everyone equally regardless of their gender identity, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religious affiliation, disabilities, age and other factors. 

It's a whole other story to make sure that this beautifully crafted statement doesn’t end up dusting away in some folder or in an obscure SharePoint file dump hardly anybody ever looks at. 

Actions speak louder than words, and it is not fair for the LGTBQIA+ community to message support while actually doing little to nothing to drive the change. Even in Finland, working life still needs more open discussions on equality and inclusivity. It also needs admitting that there is still way to go. Many outdated ways of thinking and hidden discriminative structures continue to exist and they often go unnoticed by everyone apart from those who suffer from them. 

It’s not idealism, it’s a success factor 

But what’s the point, might ask a business leader to whom the question feels distant and irrelevant. 

There are many answers. 

First of all, we are all equally valuable, born with different traits and background. In principle, it is grossly unfair to discriminate people for just being who they are. Moreover, no one should be discriminated because of who they choose to love or what they believe in. Everyone is worthy of respect, and everyone is worthy of being celebrated as the unique person they are.  

Even more importantly: When everyone at the workplace feels they can safely be their genuine selves, only then they are able to be the best that they can. Pretending and hiding your true self is not just exhausting and unfair but also detrimental to reaching your full potential. Diversity in families, teams, at the workplace and generally in life is a richness that should be cherished. What an awful world it would be if everyone was the same.  

In terms of business logic, the competition for skilled talent is already extreme and is about to get more intense. Those capable of communicating their values and how they genuinely live and lead by them are the ones successfully hiring. Candidates pay attention to this and it impacts the choices they make. 

Genuine encounters are a success factor 

As a family business, respecting and celebrating each person as their genuine selves is in our DNA, further highlighted by one of our three values: Grow Together. For us is important that everyone feels safe, welcomed, important and meaningful in their roles and at home. 

We practice what we preach. For example, in 2021, we launched a mandatory anti-harassment training in 13 languages to all Paulig employees to prevent discrimination, bullying and sexual harassment at the workplace. Our whistleblowing process allows people to report on any discrimination. We are already seeing a positive change resulting from this work. Our Supplier Code of Conduct helps us to find partners with similar values and, again, it’s not a document lying forgotten somewhere but a mindset we actively advance and develop. 

We know that our company’s strength is our people, and all 2,300 of us are different. This diversity is why we thrive. 

Going back to Helsinki Pride’s theme, “Encounters.” Social interactions fuel many things such as strong teams, innovation, serendipity and job satisfaction. To genuinely encounter someone, you first need the freedom to be who you truly are. From business perspective, that is a competitive advantage. From human perspective, that spreads warmth, creates deep and meaningful interactions and forges strong relationships. 


Rolf Ladau

President and CEO