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Three 'Fathers of the Year' promote father-friendly work culture

Jouni Eho from the eastern city of Kotka and Hanno Nevanlinna and Seppo Sauro from the capital region city of Espoo are the 2014 winners of the Father of the Year award, granted each year in Finland since 2006. The awards were presented to the winners Friday by Minister of Social Affairs and Health Laura Räty. Finland celebrates Father’s Day this weekend, on Sunday November 9.

Image: Mikko Stig

Three men have been selected Father of Year in 2014 for their efforts to balance work and family life and promote a father-friendly work culture.  

Kotka resident Jouni Eho splits his time equally between his family and his busy entrepreneur’s schedule. As leader of Finland’s branch of the research and consultancy group Oxford Research, Eho for example goes into work early in the morning in order to be able to spend the evenings with his three children.

Eho’s company seeks to highlight the importance of the family’s wellbeing. Working times are flexible, employees are given the opportunity to do work from home and part-time options are arranged when family situations require.

Eho says new technology like the kind that has made video conferencing possible has reduced the amount of work-associated travel that is necessary.

Arranging work to suit the family schedule

Espoo native Hanno Nevanlinna has likewise arranged to work a shorter work week in order to have time to be with his young daughter. Nevanlinna works as a culture content director at the programming company Futurice Oy.

His company adheres to the principle of an eight-hour working day and paternity and child care leaves are encouraged. Nevanlinna has therefore had the opportunity to arrange his work to suit the schedule of a family with two children. He says he believes family is always more important than work.

Grandparents are important too

The third honouree is Seppo Sauro, the director of Finland’s Central Union for Child Welfare. 64-year-old Sauro has spent his entire career promoting a father-friendly society and work culture. He has led by example in many ways, for instance always taking the full paternity leave that was due him long before the practice became more established in Finland, even though most fathers are still hesitant to take advantage of the leave even today.  

Sauro has also written and spoken extensively on the importance of grandparenting on a personal and societal level.

The theme of this year’s award is “fathers as employers and employer representatives”. The theme is intended to call attention to the significance of a good work-life balance and the role of the employer in building a father-friendly work culture. Minister of Social Affairs and Health Laura Räty presented the awards to the recipients on Friday.

The Ministry grants the awards each year based on recommendations from the Family Federation Väestöliitto. The Federation chooses individuals who promote recognition of the significance of fathers with their example and their work, therefore enhancing general appreciation for fathers everywhere.

The objective is to strength fathering, while promoting children’s best interests and gender equality.

Finland has recognised exemplary Fathers of the Year since 2006.