Most commonly known as a symbol of hope, the rainbow is also the internationally recognised icon for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) Pride community. It represents people, their life experiences and the fight to be accepted for who they are.
“From a historical point of view, the colours of a flag were meant to divide people – mark them as belonging to a group,” points out Oskar Krzesicki, Senior Quantitative Risk Analyst. “People still fight to ‘capture’ flags today.”
“The rainbow breaks this tradition because there are so many colours in one flag. I feel like it leaves nothing to fight about.” Oslo-based Oskar Krzesicki appreciates Nordea’s support for the LGBTQ+ community and comments: “I feel very confident about being myself at the office and opening up to colleagues.”
He compares his experience with a previous employer, where there was no focus on inclusion in the workplace: “I felt like I was coming out to colleagues every time I spoke about my private life. It was exhausting.”
People shouldn’t hide themselves away
Hanna Kannelmäe, Senior Customer Production Officer in Estonia, has dedicated much of her adult life to fighting for LGBTQ+ rights and is well aware of social prejudice towards the LGBTQ+ community. From attitudes such as ‘gay people should stay invisible’ to fears about same sex marriage being damaging to children – she’s been confronted with it all.
“The fact that you have to constantly explain why one human being is just as valuable as another is something I find mystifying,” she sighs. She believes that the only way to shift societal attitude towards a marginalised group of people is to keep talking about it and for people to not hide themselves away.
Within Nordea, Hanna Kannelmäe contributes to diversity and inclusion work through the Employee Resource Group for LGBTQ+. This platform has been a catalyst for changing attitudes and educating people about acceptance of others. And as for the rainbow, well, it’s far from invisible.
“As the work on diversity and inclusion spreads across Nordea, I feel like I’m starting to see rainbows appear above people’s heads,” she laughs.
It reminds us we’re all human beings
For Tomas Oxendorff from the Diversity & Inclusion Team in Nordea, the rainbow symbolises a connection with people all over the world.
“It signals our pride, visibility and solidarity. It reminds us we’re all human beings. Gay, straight, binary, whatever! We all have the right to be here, to be respected and most importantly, to be loved,” he says.
Tomas Oxendorff lives together with his husband in Sweden and feels surrounded by love and acceptance from family and friends.
“Some people are abandoned by their own families for being unlike others, and many others feel they must hide who they are. I’m lucky enough to live my life as I choose to, and I wish the same freedom for all people,” concludes Tomas Oxendorff.