Gender Equality Plan for VTT

As part of the European Commission's Gender Equality Strategy for 2020–2025, the European Commission is committed to promoting gender equality in research and innovation. This is alongside the well-established regulatory framework within the EU on gender equality, which applies widely across the labour market, including the research sector.

It is important to address issues related to gender equality in research and innovation in order to overcome the relevant structural and cultural barriers. These issues within research have been typically addressed through the following measures:

VTT has published the commitment to enhance gender equality and has collected, analysed, reported and published data actively as a part of annual reporting for years. The dedicated personnel have done a thorough analysis to point out the places of improvement and topics for training and competence building in a wider context at VTT.

Gender Equality within corporate responsibility

Gender Equality at VTT is part of a wider context related to our Diversity, Equality and Inclusion (DEI) framework within the Corporate Responsibility entity. We are strongly committed towards gender equality within our working community and in the wider research ecosystem.

VTT supports and promotes a diverse and inclusive working culture where everyone is treated equally, respectfully and inclusively, regardless of their background. As clearly stated in the VTT Code of Conduct, we do not accept any discrimination against employees on the basis of age, gender, origin, sexual orientation, political activity or any other reason. All VTT employees adopt the code of conduct as a part of induction and are committed to act according to it.

VTT has taken actions to declare its commitment to gender equality and is a member of the following societies and organisations:

VTT supports the development of structures and targeted measures that enhance gender equality and social equality within the organisation. Equality (gender and in a wider context) is emphasised in all processes, including recruitment, competence development, talent programmes or career progression. 

VTT has a gender equality plan made in accordance with the requirements of the Finnish Act on Equality between Women and Men (in Finnish: Laki naisten ja miesten välisestä tasa-arvosta 609/1986). The plan is re-evaluated and updated by employer and personnel representatives. The plan takes a systematic stand on actions advancing equality and parity, defining goals, actions, metrics and responsible parties.

Below you can find the measures, activities and polices that have been developed and executed to support gender equality. These measures are part of the wider DEI framework, strongly supported by the top leadership, and the measures are subject to continuous development and planning of new actions. The training and capacity building is described in each measure.

Dedicated resources

VTT has a dedicated Manager for Diversity, Equality and Inclusion topics, with a strong commitment from the top leadership. In addition, the work is supported by an HR legal and HRD experts that are committed to the implementation of the Gender Equality Plan.

VTT has an additional nine experts who support the researchers in the preparation and implementation of European research project plans. This support also includes overlooking the integration of the gender dimension and gender balance and it is done in close cooperation with the VTT research team on Ethics and responsibility of innovations.

In addition, HR and QEHS units have dedicated resources (four full-time staff members) that focus on employee wellbeing, health and safety and a healthy work environment, which also entails the subject of psychological safety.

Data collection and monitoring

VTT collects data on and monitors sex/gender disaggregated data on its personnel, and it is published as part of the annual reporting (Global Reporting Index (GRI), Part 401­1: New employee hires and employee turnover, Part 405-1: Diversity of governance bodies and employee).

Internal data collection and monitoring is done regularly, and reporting is done on the company and business area level, fully respecting the EU GDPR. The collected data include the following:

  • The percentage share of men and women in VTT
  • The percentage share of men and women in different personnel groups (executive leadership team, top management and middle management, team leaders, researchers)
  • The percentage share of international personnel
  • The average age of personnel
  • The percentage share of men and women in different age groups
  • Statistics on equal pay

Work-life balance and organisational culture

VTT is aware that organisational culture and work-life balance are key components for establishing an environment where all employees can thrive and have equal opportunities in building a fulfilling career. Organisational culture and work-life balance is a wide area that covers issues such as the following:

  1. Gender-sensitive communication
  2. Childcare provisions and flexible working arrangements
  3. Maternity/paternity/parental leave provisions.

VTT offers tools and has policies in place. We already offer a collection of services ranging from services to support one’s mental health and a healthy lifestyle, to mindfulness and time management.

In addition, VTT offers the possibility for flexible working hours and supports remote and hybrid work. This helps the work-life balance. VTT strongly supports the opportunity given by Finnish legislation to work part-time when children are small, and thus we contribute to being a family-friendly employer.

VTT is planning company-wide training opportunities to raise awareness on gender equality and in unconscious biases for employees. In the coming 2 years, VTT will develop and offer training that gives tools and skills on how to avoid/diminish the biases in regular work processes such as inclusive recruitment and selection, onboarding and communication.

VTT encourages all its employees to spend as much precious time as possible with their newborns. Employees are entitled to maternity leave, paternity leave, parental leave and child-care leave according to the Finnish law and collective agreement provisions. The duration of the maternity leave is about four months. Maternity leave begins one to two months before the excepted due date. The total maximum duration of the paternal leave is about two months. Fathers are entitled to stay home at the same time with the mother for a limited time and additional longer time when mother is not on maternity or parental leave. Parental leave can be divided between the parents, and the total duration is about six months. Employees are also entitled to take child-care leave for the full-time care of a child under the age of three and for the care of an adoptive child for two years after adoption with some limitations.

If the employee's child, who is under 10 years, falls suddenly ill, the employee is entitled to temporary child-care leave. There are some extensions and limits to this general rule.

Gender balance in leadership and decision making

VTT strives to be a gender-balanced research company, where its members have equal access to and a balanced participation in leadership and other decision-making roles.

VTT collects data on and monitors gender balance in different levels of leadership roles and decision making. As of 2020, 67% of the members of the executive leadership team are women and 33% are men, which is not typical in a technology company. 

At VTT, we conduct an annual leadership talent review, and the evaluation is done according to aspiration, ability and motivation, as well as behaviour. By setting the criteria in advance, the objective is to tackle the unconscious biases in order to avoid their impact on the assessment. The managers are trained and supported on how to use the criteria, and cross-company evaluations are conducted in order to ensure a fair and equal assessment.

VTT has a training programme for all new managers at the beginning of their line manager career. One part of the programme will be about Diversity, Equality and Inclusion.

Gender equality in recruitment and career progression

VTT’s recruitment goal is to attract top researchers and professionals in their field regardless of their gender, country of origin or other aspects irrelevant for the job performance. In all VTT recruitments, we utilise a competency-based approach. This means that, in the beginning of the recruitment process, we select the key competences and criteria used for the candidate evaluation through the process to ensure equality and objectivity. In all recruitment trainings for hiring managers and recruiters, we highlight the importance of being aware of bias affecting hiring decisions and provide the related support materials. A recruitment team member supports managers in each recruitment process and provides consultation for the hiring decision and equal treatment of the candidates.

Talent review is based on predesigned competences and behaviours supporting and defined by the VTT strategy. Managers review their team to find and nominate their talents, and calibration of the quality of nominations is done at the VTT-level. The process also contains the follow up and reporting of diversity matters, such as gender, nationality and age.

Integration of the gender dimension into research and trainings content

Gender dimension is taken into account in the EU and other funding proposals and projects. VTT has created a special support for researchers (tools and advisers) for investigating the gender perspective regarding their research context. In addition, VTT has a team, “Ethics and responsibility of innovation”, which actively promotes the Responsible Research and Innovation approach, including gender and diversity dimensions.

VTT is a partner in the GenderSTI project, which aims to analyse the participation of women in science, technology and innovation (STI) dialogues between Europe and third countries. The project focuses on four key areas: gender equality in scientific careers, gender balance in decision making and the integration of the gender dimension in Research and Innovation (R&I) content.

VTT has an internal Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) course for the researchers, including the module “Engagement, gender and inclusiveness”. The module gives insight to the implementation of gender dimension to the research practice. In addition, VTT has built its own guidelines and examples on how to approach the ethical and gender issues in drawing the research project plans and has regular internal training sessions and allocated resources to support its implementation.

Against gender-based violence, including sexual harassment

VTT’s values are Respect, Together, Passion and Forerunner, and they leave no space for violence or harassment. Respect is described as follows: We show empathy and collegiality in all situations. We take ownership of our work & show leadership. Together is described as follows: We want to build on community and trust. Working together brings us joy, and we are inspired to co-create with high ambition. Passion is described as follows: We are passionate about staying curious, continuously learning and driving customer-centricity. Forerunner is described as follows: We have the courage to go beyond the obvious and pave the way for a better future. With us, you dare to try, fail, learn and excel.  

VTT does not tolerate any form of harassment. VTT as an employer has a legal obligation to address the discrimination occurring in the workplace. Sexual harassment is criminalised by the Criminal Code of Finland (Chapter 20, section 5a). In order to prevent harassment and to facilitate intervention, we have created guidelines and tools for cases of harassment and inappropriate treatment occurring in the workplace.  

VTT has a whistleblowing tool, where employees can draw the attention to all types of misconduct. The tool can also be used for observations of possible harassment of any kind. The topics are investigated by VTT’s Compliance committee.

VTT has trained all the line managers to see and react firmly and decisively to any behaviour, which is against VTT’s values, ethical norms or good leadership principles. The training starts when they enter the leadership role, and the skills are updated regularly. Recognising emotions and understanding their power in decision making is a key to successful leadership, and this is why VTT has trained line managers in 2020-21 to enhance their skills on emotional intelligence.

VTT is a member of the Zero Accidents forum and committed to this target. For us, the Zero Accident policy covers a range of topics, also including a Zero-tolerance policy for bullying or incidents of violence and harassment.

Management commitment letter: annex to the VTT Gender Equality Plan