The Business Case for Diversity

May 17, 2016 | ‒

On May 17, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications in partnership with the US Embassy and the American Chamber of Commerce held a joint morning seminar “The Business case for Diversity” with over 60 participants coming together for an intriguing discussion with the Estonia’s top leaders.

Liisa Oviir, the Minister of Entrepreneurship, made opening remarks stating that xenophobia and increasing manifestations of xenophobia and racism perceived in Estonia’s society strongly influence the safety and quality of life of the foreigners who live in Estonia, and have a negative impact on the competitiveness of the business environment. Minister Oviir brought to everyone`s attention, that it important to think about how the state and businesses could cooperate to promote tolerance in the society.

In the following speech of the US Ambassador to Estonia, Mr. Jim Melvill, the importance of diversity and tolerance was also highlighted and the kenyote speaker, Dr.Yahya Basha, was introduced.

Dr. Basha is an American entrepreneur who runs a successful medical diagnostics company in Michigan State. He came to America as an immigrant from Syria in 1972. Dr. Basha told a fascinating story of his difficult, yet very exciting journey to success. Today his company, Basha Diagnostics, offers the most modern and highly designed 3T MRI technology made by Siemens. Dr. Basha is an active member of communities and business organizations. In his lively story, he shared his perspectives on the advatages of hiring a diverse workforse and how businesses can contribute to help immigrants to adapt into a new culture and environment.

After the heartfelt testimonial, Dr. Basha joined the panel for an open discussion. The panel also included  the Owner and President of Estonia Piano Factory Indrek Laul, CEO of Jobbatical Karoli Hindriks, and Hanno Tomberg as the moderator.

Indrek Laul and Karoli Hindriks gave an overview of their own contribution and personal experience not only to the topic of immigrants, but diversity overall – which also includes people of different age, sex and disabilities. Hanno Tomberg, as well as the participants, spiced up the panel discussion by asking some rather hard-hitting questions.

We are thrilled  that there are businesses in Estonia, which are open to diversity in general and are willing to stand up and voice their opinion, as well as  contribute and support the topic of multicultural society not only verbally, but also by acting accordingly.

AmCham, along with the Ministry and the US. Embassy, hope that speaking up and raising the awareness will help to take the conversation about diversity and tolerance to the next level, and will also help to have an objective and productive discussion between the businesses, representatives of minority groups and local residents.

We would like to sincerely thank the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications for hosting the event and Liisa Oviir for her performance! Special thank you goes to the US. Embassy in Tallinn and the Ambassador James Melvill for giving us a chance to meet and have an open discussion with Dr.Yahya Basha. Also we would like to express our gratitude to Indrek Laul and Karoli Hindriks for joining the panel and Hanno Tomberg for moderating it. And of course, big thank you to our members and all other guests for their active participation.