Diversity makes us better

For Coor, diversity is much more than just a word in policy documents. Our staff give us access to great ethnic and cultural diversity, and we’re very proud of this. Our ambition is that Coor staff should reflect our customers and society as a whole. We see diversity as enriching - multiple perspectives make us better, more profitable and more responsive.

– Staff with a variety of backgrounds represents a clear asset, as it provides us with more innovation and creativity. This increases customer satisfaction, and diversity also makes us more profitable. Simply put, it makes us a better company. The FM sector gives us more opportunities than most to employ newcomers and other people that would otherwise be excluded from the labor market. We’re often able to offer them their first job and we’re proud of that, Magdalena Öhrn, Communications Director at Coor, explains.

Your first job in a new country is much more than just a workplace. It provides you with a context and a sense of belonging, which is incredibly important. At Coor we have an inclusive corporate culture and we want all of our 11,000 employees to feel that they can be themselves and be respected.

– We give our staff the tools they need, and we help them to integrate into society in a range of ways, including internal language classes and training programs. We’re rewarded for this because diversity is important to Coor’s employer brand, for existing and potential staff alike. Everyone wants to work at a company where you can be proud of the corporate culture, Magdalena Öhrn explains.

Coor’s diversity and integration work goes beyond just the company’s employees. The ambition is to give something back to the communities where Coor has operations by facilitating integration and providing support to those that need it. Examples of this include helping children in deprived areas with homework, mentorship programs for non-native entrepreneurs in deprived areas and various collaborations with municipalities that help more people enter the labor market.

– A large company like Coor has a responsibility: it’s important that companies like us offer people a foot in the door to the labor market, but we can become even better at it. Diversity will only become more important and is something that we need to take into consideration when recruiting new managers, for example. We have a large number of employees and over the coming years we plan to grow even further. Coor needs to attract, retain and recruit people—and this is where integration and diversity play a key role, Magdalena Öhrn concludes.

– In the beginning, it was hard. If you can’t speak Swedish, you tend to seek out other people who speak your language and groups form. But we made the decision that ”at work, we speak Swedish”. Even if a group of us that all speak the same language are having coffee together, we still speak Swedish! It’s about emphasizing the benefits of learning Swedish - it helps you integrate so much faster. I would have liked more people to have spoken Swedish to me when I first arrived so that I could have learned it faster, Ali Noke, team leader at CGM, explains.

Ali came to Sweden unaccompanied in 2003 when he was just 18 and many other people in the team are also unaccompanied younger people. Some have no family or social context - this means that work and their colleagues become very important, and many of them socialize outside of work.  It’s a positive factor that the members of the team have such varying backgrounds, according to Ali.

– We meet a lot of different customers every day, and the colleague with the right skills for that particular customer helps them solve their problem. Because we come from different cultures, we can approach customers in multiple ways, depending on culture. Our different experiences help us resolve conflicts and have made us stronger as a team, Ali concludes.

Norwegian customers and organizations are increasingly requiring that all staff have a professional qualification. In response to this, the Norwegian parliament facilitated for certain professional groups, such as catering kitchen staff and construction workers, to gain a professional qualification through their employer - without having to give up their job or salary. Coor has offered staff this opportunity since fall 2018 and Khanh, 30, was quick to make the most of this offer.

– I applied as soon as I saw the opportunity on Coor’s website. This has been a great chance for me, she explains.

Khanh has been working in Food by Coor’s kitchen at the company’s Oslo-based customer Equinor for around six years. She’s responsible for serving food at meetings and helps the chefs during larger events. Her aim is to eventually acquire her own professional qualification as a chef.

– To begin with, I want to gain my professional qualification and improve my existing skills. This is making me more confident about my job and also confirms what expertise I already have, Khanh Kim Ho explains.

She studies for six hours on alternate Wednesdays, straight after work.

– It can be a bit tough after having just worked an eight-hour shift, but there’s always coffee, she laughs.

The next step will be to gain work experience at her current place of employment, under a dedicated supervisor. She’ll complete her studies with an exam in spring 2020.

– I’m a bit nervous about the exam, and I know I’m going to have to work hard. But I also know that it will be worth the effort and I’m so grateful for this opportunity to develop professionally, Khanh Kim Ho concludes.

– Life gets a bit bleak if you don’t have a job and just sit around at home and having just arrived in a new country work also gives you a social context. It was hard initially, because I didn’t speak any Danish. Everything got easier once I started language classes through Coor. Now that I can speak Danish nothing is impossible, I’ve made a lot of new contacts, Roman Tahir Pedersen explains.

Today, Roman works as an inspector and has attended language classes and other training programs, such as Coor’s labor market training, while continuing to work with the company. She’s just completed a basic management training and will start in a new role as service manager at the beginning of next year.

– The training was demanding but I worked hard, and I did it! I’m very proud of what I’ve achieved, and grateful to Coor for giving me this opportunity. At first, I didn’t think I was qualified enough to complete the training, but when I asked my manager, he supported me and gave me this chance, Roman explains.

It wasn’t just Roman’s manager, but also her colleagues, that helped her succeed.

– My colleagues all really support me and are so positive about my management training - they give me space to grow! I pass this support on to other people and try to encourage everyone I work with to believe in themselves and really make the most of the opportunities for professional training and personal development at Coor. Coor has given me these chances and I look forward to many exciting opportunities for passing my new expertise on to my colleagues, Roman Tahis Pedersen concludes.

– I’m delighted that I found a job as quickly as I did and I still love my job, my managers and the company as a whole. I recommend Coor to all my friends, because the working conditions are good and you’re made to feel welcome from day one, Toni Dimeski explains.

How important was your job for helping you integrate into Finnish society?

– It was extremely important. It gave me the opportunity to continue with my life independently, without needing to rely on other people or authorities. Having a job to do, paying my own bills and living with dignity is what’s most important, he explains.

Coor Finland offers its employees the opportunity to complete training while continuing to work, which was attractive to Toni. In September 2017, he took the opportunity to start studying for a professional cleaning qualification.

– I completed the training in March 2019, and I learned a lot of new things as well as developing my existing skills. We learnt more about everything - from how to use cleaning equipment correctly to the company’s Code of Conduct policy. It was a great training program, Toni explains.

In December 2019, Coor launched a “Finnish in the workplace” pilot language course, aimed at staff with a non-Finnish background.

– When I arrived in Finland, I didn’t know a word of Finnish, but now understand it well. It’s a difficult language and I want to carry on learning more. Communication is very important, Toni Dimeski concludes.