Under the Non-Discrimination Act, the authorities, private parties with public administration duties, education providers, early childhood education and care organisers and service providers as well as employers must assess and promote equality in their activities. Under the act, these actors must also prepare equality promotion plans to promote equality. In the case of employers and private actors performing public administrative functions, the obligation applies to parties that regularly employ at least 30 persons. In education and early childhood education and care, the planning obligation is specific to the educational institution and facility. Provisions on the planning obligation are laid down in the Non-Discrimination Act and the content of the obligation is detailed in the preparatory work of the act.
The obligation to draw up an equality promotion plan was extended to early childhood education and care organisers as well as service providers, when the Non-Discrimination Act changed on 1 June 2023. According to the amended Non-Discrimination Act, employers are also required to assess equality in recruitment, and the workplace equality promotion plan must also include a report of the conclusions drawn from the equality assessment. The transition period for early childhood education and care facilities and employers is two years for equality promotion planning.
Equality planning promotes equality
An equality promotion plan sets out how an organisation promotes equality, works to prevent discrimination and tackles discrimination in its own activities and as an employer. The purpose of equality planning is to assess and develop the activities from the perspective of safeguarding equality and to ensure equality in the activities. The aim is to achieve de facto equality.
A good equality promotion plan serves as a tool for identifying situations and structures that may lead to discrimination, and it can also be used to systematically promote equality. The equality promotion plan also provides an instrument for highlighting hidden discrimination and for focusing action on preventing and eliminating discrimination.
- For example, an equality promotion plan prepared by a public authority can help to identify the needs of different customer groups and to ensure that everybody is able to use the services provided by the authority on an equal basis.
- An equality promotion plan prepared by an education provider helps to identify the needs of different students and offer tools to tackle harassment.
- Equality promotion planning in early childhood education and care can prevent discrimination and promote equality and the realisation of the rights of the child. The planning helps with paying attention to the contents of the early childhood education and care provided for children, and it guides the personnel in meeting the children and their families equally.
- An equality promotion plan drawn up by an employer also serves as an effective human resources instrument. The workplace equality promotion plan must also include a report on the conclusions of the assessment of equality.
- Public authorities steering their administrative branches (such as ministries) should identify and document in their plans instruments for ensuring compliance with the promotion obligation in their administrative branches (for example, by means of performance guidance and operational steering).
An equality promotion plan may contain measures that allow everybody to have access to services and take part in the activities on an equal basis. Such measures could include for example:
- ensuring accessible mobility
- interpretation services
- producing leaflets in different languages
- using accessible communication channels.
Assessment, concrete measures, and follow-up are the key elements of equality planning
Assessing the current situation, setting concrete objectives on the basis of the assessment, and monitoring the carrying out of the measures are the key elements of the equality promotion plan.
It is essential that the plan is based on an adequate assessment of the current situation. For this reason, it should be ensured that organisations representing persons vulnerable to discrimination and other stakeholders are given an adequate opportunity to be heard. The education providers, educational institutions as well as early childhood education and care facilities and service providers must reserve an opportunity for the children and students or pupils and their guardians to be heard on the promotion measures. Employers must discuss the promotion of equality and the impact of the measures with the employees. In equality planning and assessment, attention must be paid to different grounds for discrimination and population groups relevant to the activities.
Ministries and other public authorities whose tasks include the steering and supervision of administrative branches must, in their planning activities, work to ensure that the actors that are supervised and steered also fully comply with their obligation to promote equality.
The measures promoting equality must be effective, appropriate and proportionate, considering the operating environment, resources and other conditions. A monitoring mechanism must be prepared for the plan and it must also be explained in the plan.
Supervising equality planning
The Non-Discrimination Ombudsman supervises compliance with the obligation to promote equality under the Non-Discrimination Act. For example, when reviewing discrimination contacts, the Non-Discrimination Ombudsman regularly requests equality promotion plans from public authorities, private actors performing public administrative functions, education institutions and education providers.
Provisions on the obligation of public authorities, private actors performing public administrative functions, education providers, educational institutions, early childhood education and care facilities and employers to prepare equality plans are laid down in the Non-Discrimination Act. If an actor obliged to prepare an equality promotion plan fails to comply with its obligation, the Non-Discrimination Ombudsman may refer the matter to the National Non-Discrimination and Equality Tribunal. The tribunal may oblige the actor to prepare the plan and, if necessary, it can impose a conditional fine to enforce its decision.
Are you preparing an equality promotion plan?
Guides, manuals and good practices are available to support equality planning. You can read more about them here:
- For more information and instructions for preparing an equality promotion plan, visit yhdenvertaisuus.fi
- For equality planning guides and manuals, visit yhdenvertaisuus.fi (in Finnish)
- For more information about the stages of the equality planning process, visit yhdenvertaisuus.fi.
- For good practices to promote equality, visit yhdenvertaisuus.fi (in Finnish)
- Instructions of the National Board of Education on equality promotion planning in early childhood education and care (in Finnish)