ESG, Insights, Pro Bono/23 Jun 2021

Working with Pride – A Year-Round Commitment to Promoting Equality

The rule of law calls for the equality and other fundamental rights of every citizen to be protected – and everything we do in our profession is based on protecting the rule of law. As the Finnish Bar Association puts it, attorneys are essential for upholding the strong constitutional state of Finland.

Borenius is one of the main partners of the Helsinki Pride Community, a non-governmental expert organisation, whose goal is to eliminate the inequality faced by sexual and gender minorities (LGBTI persons) in all aspects of culture, language and society. Our pro bono cooperation with the Helsinki Pride Community is one way for us to uphold equality – a goal that is at the heart of our core values.

Inclusivity is more than glitter and sequins

Supporting the LGBTI community requires more than adding a rainbow flag to your logo. Especially in social media, a lot of criticism has been aimed at businesses who embrace the Pride month on their own channels. These engagements are sometimes only seen as a hollow act of pinkwashing. To avoid this, businesses should actually use their resources for LGBTI issues, take the rights of persons belonging to the LGBTI community seriously and listen to their needs as a brand, business partner and employer.

The Helsinki Pride Community takes this issue seriously by making sure their partners are well trained for creating a LGBTI inclusive working environment. The training is focused on promoting equality in workplaces from the view point of LGBTI people, and it provides organisations with a more inclusive vocabulary and examples of inclusive practices and ways of working.

In terms of publicity and media coverage, our cooperation with the Helsinki Pride Community is  most obvious and visible during the Helsinki Pride Week, which is the most attended public event in Finland. However, for the Helsinki Pride Community, pride is not simply a colourful parade but an all-year tireless work for human rights. For us, the Community’s activities towards a more equal and inclusive society translate into a year-round need for legal support, which we are happy to provide.

Why you should do pro bono work on equality?

This year’s Pride Week is dedicated to concerns that have historically affected the Finnish LGBTI community. It has been 50 years since homosexual acts were removed from the Finnish Criminal Code and 40 years since homosexuality was decategorised as a mental illness in Finland. Unfortunately, LGBTI individuals are still subject to several inequalities, even in the eyes of Finnish law.

As a harsh example, the Finnish Trans Act severally violates the human rights. In the EU level, we still need to witness that these things are not merely a historic leftover – just last week Hungary passed a law that bans the presentation of LGBT content in schools or kids’ TV.

For corporate attorneys, human rights – even if being at the heart of our profession – may not be that evident in the daily work. This makes it even more important to take a strong stand on this. Our cooperation with the Helsinki Pride Community is a way to show our commitment to equal human rights. While some people may consider that corporations are not in the business of shifting public opinion, it is impossible for a lawyer to ignore human rights.

As a result of this, we also encourage other corporate law firms to join us in publicly and actively supporting the LGBTI movement in the upcoming years.

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Additional information

Henna Jovio