Diverse leadership of tomorrow - seminar and workshop


Minna Karjalainen

Local organization

JCI Keskuspuisto - Helsinki


Minna Karjalainen


From June 1 to December 31, 2021


Target was to find out how young adults with a challenging family background saw their success in studies and work life, and what kind of factors impacted their progress and options. The project brought together stakeholders to discuss diversity and raise awareness of socioeconomic background's impact in work life. The output was practical examples on dveelopment ideas for new projects addressing the issues raised.

Target avg age


People impacted


Sustainable Development Goal

Reduced Inequalities

Development stage

Education and Economic Empowerment


We wanted to challenge the public dicussion about diversity by raising the need for tackling the rootcauses, such as poverty, domestic violence or substance abuse into spotlight. This topic is important as oftentimes diversity discussion in business settings stay on very superficial level, such as gender, without really digging into the rootcauses or inequalities under the surface. Socioeconomic background is not a visible feature but as the our survey indicates, has a massive impact on people's lives and career paths.


The basis for this projects stems from the traditional Christmas tree charity project, where JCI chapters around Finland collect gifts for social services' child customers around Christmas time. JCI Keskuspuisto owned the trademark and coordinated the project nationally, until in 2021, a separate association was founded to coordinate and develop this program from just collecting gifts into actually impacting inequality of children from various backgrounds.

The project consisted of three parts:
1) SURVEY was done to collect thoughts and ideas from young adults with challenging socioeconomic background. Altogether 2200 young adults responded to the survey which had 21 questions and was split into three main themes: a) experiences on career progress, b) impact of support received from others and c) factors impacting respondents willingness to aim for leadership positions.
2) SEMINAR DAY with akeynote, panel discussion and idea generation workshop with 50 live participants (due to covid restrictions) and hundreds of people tuning in for the virtual stream
3) VIRTUAL CONCERT targeted to children, raising awareness of socioeconomic impact on study and career path development

16 chapter members were involved in the project team, main responsibilities including project management, partnerships, marketing, survey analysis team, program team and event organising team. Jaycees facilitated the workshops and PRES 2021 attended the diversity panel discussion as a JCI representative.

The objectives included raising awareness of invisible aspect of diversity and collecting ideas to tackle these aspects. Concrete ideas were generated and objectives met, when another project started in 2022, aiming to coach young adults from various bakcground to find jobs. That project is currently ongoing and some participants have already received job offers! Participating rate was also high, 2280 high quality responses to the survey was more than expected and good group of stakeholders from universities, cities and business life attended the seminar.


Result was a high quality survey with 2280 respondents giving insight into the impact of socioeconomic background in selection of studies and career paths. Over half of the respondents stated that their childhood has a negative impact on advancing their career. 24% say that individual attitude and persistence is key for progress - meaning that 75% is something else that can be impacted as well. Many respondents felt like they had not received enough support from their family and friends. Sometimes there were other adults like teachers that were remembered fondly and their support as essential for the courage to aim for university degree, for example.

Concrete result of the project was the other project - Job sparring partners - starting in 2022, pilot round ongoing and next round planned for the fal of 2022.


This type of project is very interesting to many stakeholders, including cities, universities and companies. It's rather easy to engage these into partnerships which raises the level of impact as well.

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