At Alma Manu, multiculturalism is always visible
Seyednaser Miri Ahangari, originally from Iran, and Apil Karki from Nepal, deliver newspapers in Pirkanmaa to fund their university studies. They work for Alma Manu, Alma Media's printing and delivery unit. Multiculturalism is an everyday presence here, as around a fifth of the delivery staff are from countries other than Finland. Diversity of staff is more important in a society where the population is aging and becoming more international.
Seyednaser Miri Ahangari, or Naser Miri for short, is from Iran, a country rich with culture and history. In 2011, he started studying materials engineering at Tampere University and applied for a job as a newspaper deliverer at Alma Manu. Naser Miri says his first impression of the company was good, and he felt welcome immediately.
Naser Miri does not mind the unusual working hours or the dangers caused by the winter weather but still delivers papers alongside his studies. He likes his job even if it can be a bit lonely sometimes.
"When working at night, we're all on our own, though if in trouble, we can get in touch with the help centre, where the night duty supervisors help any way they can," says Naser Miri.
In addition to delivering papers, Naser Miri has also helped at the Alma Manu printing house in Tampere, where he can meet co-workers.
"They give advice on practical things and good tips for coping better," Naser Miri praises his colleagues, "I think it's great to be able to work with people from different countries."
Working in Finland is basically the same as working in Iran.
As his graduation is approaching, Naser Miri is now waiting to be granted a work permit. When he arrived in Finland, he did not plan to stay here, but the beautiful country and nice people have made him change his mind.
"Working in Finland is basically the same as working in Iran. It almost feels like home," he continues.
"As I don't speak Finnish, I don't interact with Finns that much. Not knowing the language is also a hindrance when looking for a job. It's the same everywhere in the world. But I don't feel like I'm discriminated against."
Disputes over religion are waste of time
Apil Karki, 24, is from Nepal, and he started working as a newspaper deliverer at Alma Manu in Rovaniemi in 2012. The following year he decided to change from Rovaniemi University to Tampere University. He divides his time between a variety of activities, and now works as a standby deliverer at Alma Manu in Tampere while running his one-man business Brakesoft, which produces logo quizzes.
It's good to work with people from other cultures.
"Delivering papers pays the rent and bills," Karki explains. Unlike Naser Miri, Karki meets lots of other deliverers because of his job as a standby deliverer.
Apil Karki appreciates the opportunity to meet people from different cultures.
"It's good to work with people from other cultures, to share ideas with them. It gets difficult when someone refuses to understand people from different backgrounds. And disputes over religion are waste of time."
A tolerant work place is honest and flexible
Marko Huhtanen has delivered papers at Alma as a second job since 2014. His main job is in sales, and Huhtanen says that delivering papers is a good counterbalance for the day job.
At first the multicultural work environment seemed exciting.
"When I started, I didn't know anyone in the company, and my language skills were not great. Then again, I'd had great experiences of people from other cultures in my previous job," says Huhtanen.
He realises that he had some prejudices against foreigners when he was younger. The good experiences at work have changed this, though, and now he feels he is very open to multicultural environment.
"A tolerant community is based on flexible attitudes. What goes around comes around," says Marko Huhtanen.
"A tolerant community is based on honesty, equal treatment, and above all, flexible attitudes on every side. What goes around comes around."
According to Huhtanen, the improvement in language skills is one of the bonuses he gets from working in a multicultural environment.
The employer needs to have many skills
Suvi Urpalainen has worked at Alma Manu as a regional supervisor since 2009. She oversees 100 deliverers, 30 percent of whom are immigrants.
"One of the questions to consider when working with foreigners is the different concepts of time. During the induction, we offer new employees a comprehensive overview of the job, our procedures and our company culture. The instructions must be clear and precise," says Urpalainen.
Suvi Urpalainen is upset that Alma Manu's foreign staff have come across racist comments and threatening behaviour while doing their rounds.
At Alma Manu, delivery staff must speak either Finnish or English. All supervisors carry out some of their duties in English. The employer must have knowledge of various issues such as requirements for work permits.
"The foreign workers usually ask about issues such as absences, wages and work permits," Urpalainen explains.
I think that a multicultural environment benefits the company.
"I think that a multicultural environment benefits the company; it widens our horizons and can create new opportunities. Unfortunately our foreign staff have come across racist comments and threatening behaviour when doing their rounds."
Naser Miri would like to praise the wonderful people of Finland
"The population in Finland is aging, and this country needs people with various skills. You should open the doors to citizens of developing countries and offer them jobs that match their education; not just low-paying jobs even if they're willing to accept these. Trusting them benefits everyone. This would give Finland an opportunity to become one of the leading industrialised countries."
Diversity in Alma Media
Diversity of staff is more important in a society where the population is aging and becoming more international. In Alma Media this is reflected in our delivery operations, as a considerable portion of the delivery staff has an immigrant background. Around 17 percent of the delivery staff are immigrants. At Alma Media, the key themes regarding diversity are age, gender, disability, health, ethnic background and nationality. Alma Media joined FIBS' Diversity Charter Finland by signing the Charter at the beginning of 2015.
Alma Manu Oy
Alma Media's printing and distribution company
- By staff numbers, it is Alma Media's largest unit
- More than 900 delivery staff
- Pirkanmaa, around 550 delivery staff, 30% of whom are immigrants
- Satakunta, around 250 delivery staff, 10% of whom are immigrants
- Lapland, around 100 delivery staff, 20% of whom are immigrants
- Almost all foreign delivery staff are men.