• December 29, 2021

Valamis Sustainability Review 2021

In 2020, we made a commitment to systematically develop our sustainability. During 2021, we have taken concrete actions to support our values and worked to clarify our sustainability focus areas further. Let’s take a look at all the things we have achieved together!

Developing Valamis’ Sustainability

Sustainability workshops for the management team

When we started developing our sustainability actions in early 2021, we wanted to include an external consultant in the process to ensure we were headed in the right direction. Together with Niina Suuronen from Responsia Quality Solutions, we held sustainability workshops with our management team to clarify Valamis’ sustainability goals and focus areas. We also interviewed our customers to hear what aspects of sustainability are the most important to them.

“The core of a company’s sustainability is created by combining the company’s internal views and the customer views. Around these views, the company can build a truly impactful sustainability program. Valamis had already started developing their sustainability efforts before our cooperation. By listening to customers’ opinions about sustainability, we were able to clarify and tone up the direction of the work done in sustainability. This way, it’s easier to direct the sustainability work to matters that bring value to the customers and company as well as to the environment and society”, says Niina Suuronen, Expert in Quality and Sustainability, Responsia Quality Solutions Ky.

Updated sustainability focus areas

As a result of the cooperation with our customers and Responsia Quality Solutions, we updated our sustainability focus areas that were originally published in late 2020. We wanted to ensure that our sustainability focus areas are clear and positively impact employees, clients, and communities.

Our new sustainability focus areas are:

  • Responsible and Humane Work
  • Environmentally Friendly Operations
  • Helping Customers to Cut Their Environmental Footprint
  • Data Safety and Responsible Use of Data

Read more from the news: Valamis Updates Its Sustainability Focus Areas for 2022

Raising Awareness on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging

  • With Gena Cox, PhD, we hosted a webinar about tactics to drive diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging within organisations. The webinar is available to watch on demand: How to Infuse DEIB into Your Business Strategy and Operations.
  • Together, Gena Cox and our Global Head of Marketing, Katy Roby Peters, wrote an article for Chief Learning Officer about building inclusivity in the field of Learning and Development. You can read the article here: L&D’s DEI Blind Spot: Perpetuating Inequity?
  • As a small but significant change towards a more diverse and inclusive company culture, in addition to “male” or “female”, it is now possible to identify as “other” in our HR system. Valamisians are free to add and edit this information themselves.

Multicultural workplace

In the fall, our CEO Jussi Hurskainen was interviewed for Joensuu employment services about what it’s like to be a global, multicultural workplace.

In Finland, Finnish skills are usually required to apply for a job, and for this reason, international talent is often lost in the recruitment process. At Valamis, however, English is our primary work language and we actively recruit English-speaking talent to our Finnish offices as well as globally. Inclusive hiring practices are a part of our sustainability focus area “Responsible and Humane Work”. You can read the full article at TalentHub Joensuu’s blog: Multicultural Workplace – Valamis.

Paid maternity leave globally

Starting from December 2021, all female Valamis employees are entitled to six months of paid maternity leave in all Valamis operating countries. The goal for this policy is to take care of our employees’ wellbeing also in countries that do not have a legislated, paid maternity leave or it is shorter than six months. This way we hope to retain women working in the IT sector and thus increase diversity in the field.

Our CEO Jussi Hurskainen was interviewed by Finnish Entrepreneurs about the new policy. Read the article at Yrittajat.fi (in Finnish only): Joensuulaisyritys lupaa palkatun äitiysloman naistyöntekijöilleen kaikissa seitsemässä maassaan

Read the news at Valamis website: Valamis Offers Six Months of Paid Maternity Leave to All Employees

Cultural Diversity at Valamis

  • Holi
  • Family Events
  • Halloween

Holi celebrations at the Jaipur office

Valamisians’ families are also taken into consideration in our afterwork activities.

Halloween costume party in Petrozavodsk

Caring for Our Environment

We take the environment into consideration every day at our offices for example by avoiding unnecessary printing. We also consistently recycle waste; such as cardboard, glass, paper, etc. in all our offices where this is applicable. In our thank you gifts, we are moving to more sustainable choices; such as choosing organically produced or fair trade products whenever possible.

In June, a company event took Valamisians and their families to pick up garbage from a public park in a beautiful, sunny weather.

Planting trees

In 2020, we collected trees by learning as well as donated some as Christmas gifts. In 2021, our learning trees were planted in Kuortane, Finland, by youth workers from the 4H organisation. This way, we were able to support young people’s summer employment and help reforest a discontinued peat-mining area.

Bicycling for a good cause

Kilometrikisa is a Finnish, playful bicycling challenge for teams formed of work communities, societies, groups of friends, etc. The goal of the challenge is to encourage people to use bicycles as a means of transportation instead of using a car. Valamis has been participating since 2015, and this summer we broke our previous records in all the metrics!

During the time period of May 1st to September 22nd 2021, the Valamis team

  • Bicycled 38, 069.9km
  • Saved 2,664 litres of gasoline by biking instead of driving cars
  • Saved 6,660 kg of Co2-emissions
  • Collected 1,523 euros to charity for Finnish Red Cross

Since Valamisians have proven to be enthusiastic bicyclists, we wanted to support them and implement a bicycle benefit in Finland this year.

Caring for the Community

Supporting sports and excercise

At Valamis, we want to create a positive impact on our local communities. One way of doing that is by sponsoring sports teams and societies, and this way supporting especially children and young people’s sports, such as football, volleyball and cheerleading. In return, the sports societies helped us to organize well-being events for Valamisians, such as playing football and volleyball together.

Sports events for wellbeing

  • Orienteering
  • Running Events
  • Winter Fun
  • Volleyball
  • Yoga Break

This fall, a group of Valamisians enjoyed fresh air and nature whilst trying out orienteering in Joensuu.

Traditionally, Valamisians are happy to take part in running events. This is Valamis Run.

Winter outdoor activities at the Petrozavodsk office

Afterwork volleyball with colleagues

Enjoying a yoga break at Petrozavodsk office, instructed remotely by our colleagues in Jaipur!

Cooperation with football club HJK Helsinki

Our customer, football club HJK Helsinki has been using our learning solution since the spring of 2021. Adding to the co-operation, Valamis sponsors the club to support their work with children.

HJK provides over 3,500 children the possibility to participate in team sports and training. While training them to be good football players, HJK also aims to encourage the children to be good people. With the help from sponsors like Valamis, HJK is able to keep the costs of football training low, so that as many children as possible have the opportunity to participate.

Our support and cooperation also enables HJK to develop the working environment and education for their coaches and volunteers. Volunteer work provides people with a meaningful community and has a significant, positive impact on an individual’s social and mental well-being. Currently, HJK has over 700 volunteers participating in their operations.

Read more about how HJK uses Valamis Learning Solution in their operations:

Holiday donations

This year, we dedicated some of our resources to help serve communities in need:

  • In the United States, we donated to Shatterproof, an organisation dedicated to help people fighting addictions
  • In the United Kingdom, our donation to FareShare helps provide 3,500 meals for families using drop-in centres and food banks.
  • In Finland, Germany, and India, our donations focused on children and young people’s well-being. In Finland, we donated to Mieli Mental Health Finland to support their work for children and young people. In Germany, we gave to SOS Children’s Villages, and in India, we donated to an orphanage in Jaipur.
  • In the Netherlands, our donation was directed to Hivos, an organisation that supports people that aim to make the world more equal, fair and sustainable.

Wellbeing at Valamis

The Valamis employee wellbeing program

Employee wellbeing is a primary focus at Valamis, and we offer a wide range of benefits, activities and support to help Valamisians take care of their social, physical and mental wellbeing.

One of the many ways in which Valamis supports its employees’ mental wellbeing is to offer supported meditation/mindfulness app subscriptions. The benefit was implemented right after the outbreak of Covid-19.

“I start and end my days with meditation. Meditating in the morning helps me to focus on the day ahead and meditating at night helps me to sleep better. I love using the app because it reminds me to take a few minutes everyday to check in with my mental health and calms me down during stressful times so I can focus on one task at a time.” – Melissa, Marketing Coordinator

The Wellbeing Challenge

In May, HR arranged a 3-week Wellbeing Challenge that was opened for all Valamisians to participate. The challenge was set up as a learning path in our own Valamis learning solution, so that everyone could monitor their progress and achieve a cerftificate once the challenge was complete.

During the Wellbeing Challenge, Valamisians were prompted to pay attention to the small, good things in everyday life and carry out small tasks every day. There were several options for the daily activities for each week; such as meditating, taking a nap, calling a friend, and so on. People could share their experiences about the challenge on a dedicated Slack channel.

“My key takeaway of the challenge was realising that I am ALREADY constantly doing things that improve my wellbeing. It was really nice to notice that. Everyday life is pretty awesome.” – Maiju, Key Account Manager

The employee wellbeing survey

Every year, we carry out a survey to measure employee wellbeing to find areas that require attention and improvement. Based on the survey results, new benefits and policies are created. For example, this year we implemented dedicated hours for learning and sharing information in order to make sure Valamisians have the time required to develop their skills.

Read more about Learning and Development at Valamis from this blog: How Valamis Supports and Encourages Employees to Learn

In the 2021 Employee Wellbeing Survey, 87,6% of employees agree to some level with the statement “employee wellbeing is taken care of well”.

Data security

Data security is constantly on the company agenda, and this year has not been an exception. Valamis Learning System is built in accordance with security guidelines such as OWASP Top 10 and CWE/SANS Top 25. We have automated our security controls, QualityGates and Dependency Audit for our coding to find any vulnerabilities and take action to mitigate any risks. These help us protect the learning environment and customer data against known kinds of attacks and security vulnerabilities.

All of our developers go through yearly security trainings and we are audited by external auditors regularly.

Digital learning helps customers to act more sustainably

Millions of people use Valamis for digital learning, decreasing the need for learning related travel in their organisations. Valamis product development is about making learning digital, and enabling more learning possibilities for its customers’ stakeholders. With this year’s acquisition of The Working Manager and their product CareerBurst, we now have the possiblity to offer career development tools for our customers and support their employees throughout their careers.

To make digital learning more engaging, next year we will continue to develop our learning system to be more social and collaborative, and to better support learning within the flow of work. With these tools, learning, sharing knowledge and collaborating digitally will become easier and more interactive. Digital learning is not just about “completing the learning content”, but it is more focused on the social process. With Accessibility/ WCAG 2.0 compliancy we make sure that the experience is accessible for all.

When it comes to technology and performance, we are always developing the software to perform more efficiently and optimising our capacity needs at our MS Azure Cloud. The more efficient the software, the smaller environmental footprint.

Towards the New Year

Sustainability is important to us and our customers and it is this shared value that drives us to perform better in each area of sustainability. We thank our customers for their encouragement to continue this work!

In 2022, we will continue developing our sustainability principles and carrying out concrete actions across all aspects of our sustainability promise.