RESULTS OF THE SURVEY 2018
We were thrilled to see such an active participation in this first ever survey made among the Consular Corps in Finland. We received total 62 answers, representing Consuls around the country. These results are now used for two things. First of all, your valuable opinions concerning the establishment of a registered association will be included in the Articles of Consular Corps, which we shall share with you for any comments shortly. Secondly, the feedback you gave us about the operations generally and especially the content and focus of the coming CC Events will be closely steering the planning process of all engagements in the future.
Let us also share a few words about the process of analysis used. All answers have been handled without any reference to the person’s name, title or any other data enabling to identify the respondents afterwards. Finally, we have only saved the analysed results and all other data has been destroyed from the server.
What we all clearly agree on?
Let us start with those issues, which we all seems to mostly agree. First of all, total 95% of us are happy with the current operations of Consular Corps in Finland. That’s a good number and also a great basis to develop things further. However, five per cent of us thinks that operations could be better and we shall definitely make everything we can to make things better for all of us in the future.
Secondly, we are all pretty satisfied with the Consular Corps events and 90% of us gives a grade of “Very Good” or “Good”. Furthermore, ten per cent of us are not happy or see that the events could better in the future and that is what we are certainly focusing on for the coming events.
In open comments regarding the CC Events we can see pretty stable line of ideas concerning the corporate visits. In the past, such visits to big Finnish corporations and companies were more common than nowadays and we have received many proposals including major Finnish international companies like Nokia, Marimekko, Wärtsilä, Kone, Rovio, Konecranes, Fortum, Neste, Nordea, Fiskars and many more to be included within the future program.
Furthermore, many Consuls also shared additional ideas like presentations covering experiences of other consuls in their work, having leading Ambassadors in Helsinki like US, Russia, UK, France to be our guest speakers – even visits to those Embassies would be appreciated, leading politicians and ministers also from the European Union or Commission level e.g. Jyrki Katainen and Alexander Stubb, Head of Protocol of Finland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs sharing his views and advises with us and also more cultural activities and speakers from cultural circles. Many of us were also looking for more foreign speakers to our events. We also got many wishes about avec-events to be able to bring our spouses to the CC world sometimes.
Luncheons with good and perhaps more high-profile guest speakers are quite popular but also smaller, and possibly more informal, events were mentioned by several Consuls and these would be appreciated especially as a good way to introduce new Consuls. We also received various ideas to introduce every new Consul to the Consular Corps at the events and by email after the nomination. Generally many us think that high-profile guest speakers and interesting visit will bring more attendees to the events.
In September, we took the the Consular Corps to Vaasa and opinions on visits to other cities outside Helsinki and the capital region were also asked. Majority of us believes that it would be a good idea to host a CC event in other cities once a year as we did this year in Vaasa and planning to host next one in Oulu in fall 2019.
Based on the open comments, many of us believe that organising CC events also in other cities do have a regional effect, too. Bringing the Consular Corps to other cities and regions will also automatically boost the presence, visibility and recognition of the local Consular Corps, exactly as happened in Vaasa in September with plenty of regional and local media exposure. Recognising the fact that Consular Corps activities are mostly centralised in the Helsinki region, we also wanted to hear how you see our activities from the own local point of view and total 87 % of us were at least satisfied with the current operations.
Participation of Ambassadors, Diplomats and Career Consuls is also a topic that we all feel very important. Basically everyone of us believes it is a good to have the representatives of Embassies with us, a few Consuls commented that sometimes there could be an event for Honorary Consuls only.
Based on the first ever survey, the Members of Consular Corps seem to be overall happy with the operations and events but certainly there are things we could do better, as always. The current decision making process of the Consular Corps is something raising some questions as many of us expressed that they don’t have a clear message e.g. how the Board has been elected, what kind of decisions the Board is actually doing and how. Approx. 70 % of us were happy but one third felt that the decision making process could be better and the biggest concern was the lack of visibility in any decision making that the Board or Dean might have done.
One of the main issues mentioned in the open comments was the electing process where a wish for open voting of both Board and Dean was mentioned in several answers. Also a need for younger representatives was mentioned several times and more women in key positions of the Consular Corps would be appreciated.
One of the biggest changes in the near future is the transformation of the earlier non-registered entity towards a registered association, which will add transparency and somehow professionalism in the decision making process. While preparing the Articles and registration process we wanted to hear everyone’s opinion on a few key issues.
Towards an Association and Beyond, steps for the next Era?
The main question is obviously whether we should take the planned step to form an official association after almost 100 years without such a more official step. This is something we all agree in the clearest possible way: 100 % of all answers felt such a process to be “Good” or “Very Good” step forward. We believe that the direction to be taken is very clear and we are all committed with that process. In open comments the planned process was encouraged with plenty of words supporting a new era, more transparent decision making process, commitment of Consuls and especially the new ones able to participate the operations, also from the regions outside Helsinki.
Acting as an Association will bring certain changes e.g. how the Board and Chairman, i.e. Dean of the Consular Corps, will be elected, how long are the terms of those roles, should there be any regional clauses and so on. To find out what we are thinking about these things prior delivering the official Articles of Consular Corps to you for your review, we wanted to ask your opinion.
Answers to the questions whether the Dean should be from Helsinki or would it possible to have Dean also from other cities look like this:
In the open comments the message was even clearer: everyone who commented this subject more detailed, expressed the fact that the most important elements of choosing a new Dean are the capacity, energy and commitment of the elected person, not the location or genre.
The open comments included opinions e.g. why home address, genre or history as a Honorary Consul should have any role if we want to make Consular Corps as an active player and even a recognised influencer in the Finnish society. Furthermore, even that most of the communication is nowadays in digital form, Dean should be able to be in Helsinki where most of the social engagements take place. Wrt, many of us believes that an energetic Dean is able to handle the position well even that she or he would live in other city and it is all about the smooth and planned logistics after all.
The main view among all of us seems to be that the location should not be the dominant factor while choosing the Dean and she or he should always be elected based on the candidates’ skills and interests and willing to commit herself or himself to the job and the tasks it will require.
Electing the Board and Chairman?
When the operations of Consular Corps are re-formed into an official Association, the operations including the process to select the Members of the Board and Chairman, will be following the Finnish Law of Associations and the Articles of Association. One of the biggest changes will be the selection process of people in charge and how long term each of them will be voted for in the future.
Majority of us would select the new Board for 2-3 years, approximately half of us would appreciate a term of two years, almost 40 % would see three years or more as the best option.
When it comes to the Chairman, who will also act as the Dean/Doyen of the Consular Corps in the future, most of us will prefer slightly longer terms with majority preferring three years or more.
In open comments the main reason for that is better commitment and more stable status for the Dean, which would require slightly longer term to perform the tasks in a productive and professional way.
How are we communicating?
From the beginning of this year the Consular Corps has also communicated both externally and internally through new digital channels. In addition to the email lists used for invitations and other announcements, we launched new website in January and also implemented social media channels like Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin.
We are still in process to further develop those activities and channels but we also wanted to hear your opinion:
Half of the Consular Corps is very satisfied with the development of the communication and approximately half of us has been using the new channels. New communication channels and especially new web site was mentioned in several comments and it was mentioned to be a great improvement opening also the decision making process of the Consular Corps.
Creating the survey was obviously one part of these new communication plans and in the open comments many thanked for an opportunity to express their own opinions on the issues related to the future of Consular Corps in Finland. The most active users of social media also proposed to add new social media channels as Instagram into the portfolio of communication channels.
As a summary, we believe that the process of establishing an Association is something we all are looking for and we shall proceed with that process promptly. Overall, Consular Corps are pretty pleased with the current operations and activities but the decision making process should become more transparent, more focus on actual quality and content of the CC events as well as planning an annual event outside the Helsinki region should be implemented systematically.
We want to thank everyone participating the survey and look forward to receiving ideas, responses, reactions and thoughts continuously from you. The next step in this process is the Articles of Association which will opened for your reviews prior the registration shortly.
Board of Consular Corps in Finland