Foreign chambers of commerce and the Foreign Investor's Council in Estonia (FICE) have sent a letter to the Estonian government in support of more efforts towards encouraging diversity and tolerance in Estonia.
The signatories commend the government's efforts to attract and retain foreign talent in Estonia to relieve the looming labor shortage but note that this will prove increasingly difficult in the light of recent occurrences of verbal and physical harassment of people of color. They urge the government "to take decisive action to improve the acceptance of all foreigners and to protect marginalized groups in Estonia."
The chambers find that not enough public statements denouncing such attacks have allowed extremism to spread and this has begun to tarnish Estonia's reputation.
“The leadership of a democratic society as a whole must not remain silent, neutral, or inactive when these individual cases of human rights abuses begin to expose widespread intolerance. Broad-based education on the importance of tolerance and diversity, as well as a more aggressive commitment to the legal protection of marginalized groups, is needed if Estonia will remain a viable destination for foreign investment, workers, students, diplomats, and military troops,” the letter says.
FICE and chambers also find that "Strong national commitment to a generational change of attitude, where every Estonian displays the values of compassion and empathy, will help Estonia advance its international stature and leadership. Let “e-Diversity” be the image ten years hence with the actions taken today."
The letter also gives several suggestions on how to achieve this, including a powerful media campaign to raise awareness on the impact intolerance will have on Estonia's image, a state approved diversity training for all employees, and a comprehensive diversity education program for schools.
You can read the full letter here.
Editor: M. Oll