What Does Digital Force for Good Mean in Practice
We’ve built Oivan on the idea of being the digital force for good. After reaching the one-year milestone as the CEO of Oivan last month, I spent some time reflecting on how we are living up to our ideals in practice.
Here are the main ways I think we can claim to be the digital force for good today, while a lot of work still is ahead of us:
Fair Working Conditions and Compensation for Everyone
With offices in Finland, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Thailand, and Vietnam, our talented team consists of people from over 20 nationalities. We have offices in five countries with varying degrees of social security, GDP/salary-level differences, and country-specific conventions in gender workforce participation.
Despite this complexity, our dedicated People & Operations team has created consistent compensation and benefits guidelines that treat all our valued team members equally. Here are some practical examples:
We compensate all employees of our Finnish group companies the same, no matter if the employee is from Pakistan, Finland, Eritrea, United States, United Kingdom, Iraq, Ukraine, Ethiopia, Israel, Nepal, Morocco, Brazil, Vietnam, Malta, Algeria, or Bangladesh (Our actual situation:-). When deciding the team member’s compensation, all that matters is the person’s ability and scope of responsibility.
In markets with hierarchical organizational traditions, such as Vietnam, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia, we offer our local team members the chance to work in a dynamic low-hierarchy workplace. We treat nobody as a replaceable “piece of the machine.” On the contrary, we treat every team member as competent and self-driven with significant responsibility for our mutual success.
Creating Career Opportunities Where They Are Needed
Our most significant business happens in Saudi Arabia, where women have traditionally been outside of the workforce. Saudi society is changing rapidly, and we play our part in the ongoing positive developments.
Already last year, we hired several talented Saudi women to work as technical experts in our operations team, and we’ve been delighted to have them as equal colleagues. We look forward to hiring more Saudi women in the future as we find matches between our talent needs and people’s abilities.
Furthermore, our growing presence in ascending markets, such as Vietnam and Thailand, gives many young people the chance to work in a dynamic digital transformation and cybersecurity company with Nordic quality and design standards.
I feel that by bringing talented people to work together in Oivan, we can spread some of the innovative design and engineering prowess forged in the Nordics to ascending countries where IT-development conventions have often been favouring older technologies and methodologies.
Equally significantly, our non-Nordic members, which is most of our team, enrich the work experience of our Nordic team members with warmth, dedication, and community spirit that does not always automatically exist in the more individualistic work culture of the Nordics.
Helping Ascending Countries Reform Through Digitalization
Our work in Saudi Arabia goes back to 1998 when our team helped the local government organization launch the public internet in cooperation with the local government organization King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST).
While the Kingdom’s journey towards a more open and dynamic society has been a road with some difficulties, opening internet access for Saudi citizens has sped up the change for the better.
Working On Projects That Empower Ordinary People
One of our most significant digital service development projects is developing the Sakani e-service for the National Housing Company (NHC), which has enabled over 500,000 less privileged Saudi families to secure government-subsidized homes since 2017.
I have heard that before we launched the new Sakani e-services, it would take 9-12 months of dealing with paperwork and bureaucracy to secure a government-subsidized home. Now people can do the same in less than 10 minutes with their smartphones.
Promoting Privacy and Cybersecurity
We believe that privacy is a human right and that cybersecurity is a non-negotiable pillar of any modern business or institution. Our cybersecurity department has helped hospitals, ministries, insurance companies, stock exchanges, and banks to improve their cybersecurity performance.
Furthermore, we supply Nextcloud-based secure messaging and filesharing services for large organizations, including mobile operators, city officials, and government institutions.
It’s been splendid to see that many organizations using WhatsApp for internal conversations are now moving to more secure and private messaging and filesharing solutions with our help.
Dismantling Geographic Walls with Enhanced Distributed Teams
Before Covid made remote working typical for knowledge workers, we designed the Enhanced Distributed Teams (EDT) operating model, which combines the best parts of senior-level onsite consultation and internationally distributed production teams. EDT allows us to give our production members significant flexibility on where they work.
For example, our Nepalese colleague Rabi, who studied and lived in Finland for years, decided to move back to Nepal last spring to start a family. For us, it was a no-brainer that Rabi could continue working with us. After all, even when he was in Finland, he was a part of a remote production team working for our client in Saudi Arabia.
Furthermore, the EDT model allows our team members to have Oivan-level salaries without having to live in more expensive capital cities, while we still provide the option to work in a capital city office in all the countries where we have offices for everyone preferring that.
The Way Forward
With over 60 people joining Oivan in the past 12 months, sometimes I feel like we are building the Oivan aeroplane while flying, but at least we have a clear direction and solid engines.
As said in the beginning, there is a lot of work ahead of us, but I have zero doubt that we can keep getting better and better in being the digital force for good with our fantastic multi-cultural team.
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