The Finnish Constitution lays the foundation for the requirement of equal treatment. In an equal society, everyone must have equal opportunities to educate themselves, work and receive different services.
Non-discrimination is an integral part of equality. Under the Non-Discrimination Act, no one may be discriminated against based on
- political activity,
- trade union activity,
- family ties,
- sexual orientation, or
- other personal characteristics.
Authorities, education providers and employers must promote equality in their activities. The Non-Discrimination Act provides concrete tools for promoting equality.
Act on the Promotion of Immigrant Integration promotes the equality of immigrants
The measures included in the Act on the Promotion of Immigrant Integration promote the equality and non-discrimination of immigrants. For example, integration training enables immigrants to learn Finnish or Swedish and to acquire other skills that support their access to education and work as well as their participation in society.
It is equally important to identify and dismantle unequal power structures in society and to actively develop structures and services in a way that society in effect offers everyone the same opportunities for inclusion and equal position.
Positive discrimination prevents unequal positioning in society
Positive discrimination may be used to promote equality or to prevent harm caused by discrimination. In positive discrimination, certain groups of people can receive special support in situations where they would otherwise be at risk of ending in an unequal position.
The underlying idea is that even though members of minority groups are treated equally in formal terms that does not necessarily result in genuine equality. Instead, it may exclude certain population groups from some opportunities.
Positive discrimination measures may include, for example, using recruitment practices aimed at increasing the share of an under-represented group in the personnel of the workplace (e.g. immigrants). Reserving a longer period of time for customer service situations or providing training for certain groups are other examples of positive discrimination.
Positive discrimination must always be reasonably justified, planned, proportionate and temporary.