Estonian ParentSmart dialogues and impressions

Back from Tallinn!

Overwhelmed by great impressions and new contacts from the seminar last week in Tallinn, about gender equality and promoting Work-Life Balance in Estonia. The event was connected to the Swedish Institute global expo ”Life Puzzle”, like in the other countries where I’ve been invited to talk about the ParentSmart Company initiative. The seminar was very well arranged by the Estonian Ministry of Social Affairs, the Embassy of Sweden, the Swedish Institute, the Responsible Business Forum and support from Norway Grants. Perfect timing for the theme too – 2 days after presentation of the new Parliament, and one of it’s prioritized questions: Work-Life Balance!

The seminar at Radisson Blu Hotel Olümpia attracted Estonian companies from various business areas, and although female dominance there were both women and men in the audience. During the day we got current reports about challenges, possibilities and intiatives going on in the country, as well as Estonian research within the area and a Norwegian case about Storebrand’s activities to be an attractive employer.


I had the pleasure to lead a 1,5 h interactive workshop with the audience (in Estonian – it worked – well! :-)) – a dialogue about how to make use of ALL the competence available to a company – and thereby increasing gender equality, work-life balance etc. We talked about how the ParentSmart Company initiative helps companies see and show why parents are a valuable asset to the company, and why it’s profitable to have both mothers and fathers on parental leave. And how the process is initiated in practise, to achieve concrete and quick results.

The participants reflected together about their ideas, thoughts, doubts and convictions. The room was full of energy – it was interesting to follow the exchange of ideas and experiences within the area, current to all. The ParentSmart opportunity is there, in these Estonian companies like in all others I’ve met – since company benefits from parenthood always have been there. The step for an employer to show they know this connection isn’t that big, but makes all the difference. And results come quickly if working with practical support, attitudes and role models at the same time.


Below: The Swedish Ambassador Anders Ljunggren and Katri Eespere, from the Ministry of Social Affairs. Estonia has a very generous parental leave law, and several projects going on in the area. The Ministry supports initiatives in companies in different ways, both with ideas and financially (funds from Norway and EU for ex). Katri is responsible for gender equality questions at the Ministry and was showing a genuine and inspiring optimism towards the future. She talks about the gender equality development not seen as a problem, but as an interesting challenge. Liked that attitude.

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Triin Roosalu from Tallinn University presented research and ideas under the theme “Forming (gender) identities through time management”. She had an interesting reasoning about what really causes gender equality/inequality, and how we add to it and not in society, through attitudes, behaviors and role models.

Beside the Life Puzzle expo below: our excellent moderator Lee Maripuu from Swedbank, and my great support with everything from translation of slides into Estonian to expertise in the topic area – Karel Parve, Estonian Ministry of Social Affairs.


I look forward to continue my good contacts in Estonia, and hopefully be able to follow the development further in Estonian companies and society.

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