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Dialogue and cooperation – with and without being edgy

Finansforbundet in Nordea has via the board and union representatives had many curious and bold dialogues with several leaders throughout the past year. And a lot of footprints were made in Finansforbundet where topics from young generations via hired colleagues on contract basis to training and menopause were on the agenda

18. Mar 2024
9 min
English / Dansk

Finansforbundet in Nordea (FiN) made a lot of footprints in the past year. 

”All union representatives, senior union representatives, working environment representatives and the board in FiN have each in their own way strongly influenced members, Nordea and external collaborators. I am really proud that we stand united as a powerful team, fighting each and every day to gain the best possible work life for our members,” says FiN’s ad interim president, Kasper Skovgaard Pedersen. 

”And our goals keep on moving – there is always more we can do”.

Finansforbundet in Nordea'ss new presidency, Kasper Skovgaard Pedersen and Mette Balck Mejlby.

Kasper was appointed ad interim as president in Finansforbundet in Nordea after we sent Dorrit Brant to the important position as president in the ‘big’ Finansforbundet. 

As Dorrit left FiN, Jeppe Lermark Pieszak took over the free position in the board. He had been a deputy since the Annual General Meeting in the spring 2023. 

”We are a new team – and it has generated new dynamics, new discussions and new views. It is, to my opinion, really sound for the organisation”, says Mette Balck Mejlby, continuing vice president in FiN. 

”We are so proud that Dorrit was elected by the congress in the autumn. We know her competencies and which results she achieved in our organisation – and she was the very best candidate to succeed Kent Petersen in the president chair”.

Board and deputies after the annual general meeting in March 2023: Standing from the left: Board members Mona Svan, Louise Naur, Kasper Skovgaard Pedersen (ad interim president since October), Mette Balck Mejlby (vice president), Dorrit Brandt (now president of Finansforbundet), Ole Lund Jensen, Natascha Bødker Feodor Nielsen and Louise Have Lund. Sitting Katja Larsen with Jeppe Lermark Pieszak (elected as deputy and member of the board since October) to her left and deputy Pierre Christensen to the right

Many marks in Finansforbundet

By electing ’our’ president as Finansforbundet’s new president wasn’t the only mark done by FiN at the congress. For example, we put focus on diverse topics like young generations entering the labour market and the unions, menopause, hired colleagues on contract basis and a wish for having diversity issues in the training for union representatives. After the congress we have been provided seats in several committees – e.g. one focusing on future-proofing Finansforbundet and ensuring that new member groups find us relevant. 

At the Finansforbundet's congress, Finansforbundet in Nordea's delegation discussed the many debate proposals on what the Finansforbundet should work on for the next three years

“We are working on these topics in FiN as well, because the members tell us to put more lights on them,” says Kasper, at the same time admitting that not everything is easy to transform into quick, concrete results.

“Often we need to talk, network and push for quite a long time before a breakthrough suddenly occurs. As a board, we truly know that a great portion of patience is needed when we want to achieve something. But explaining to our surroundings why reaching a result takes so long isn’t always easy. The celebration toasts are not often just around the corner.” 

Edges, courage and triangles

On a regular basis, members and union representatives ask the board to ’be more edgy’ on the surface regarding issues that need to be handled. 

”To be honest, there’s nothing we would rather do,” Kasper smiles and continues:

”We are in this world to forward our members’ experiences and interests to the organization and speak out loud what needs to be said. After all, Nordea invites all employees via Code of Conduct to ‘ask questions, challenge established truths and engage in open dialogues’. In different ways, we let ourselves inspire by those words.” 

Yet, he admits that some of the tough dialogues are taken behind closed doors.

”Most of the communication open to members is written – thus without a possibility for neither Nordea nor us to take the dialogue immediately, ask questions, correct misunderstandings etc. That is why we prefer taking the hard talks orally – and then present the results to the surroundings afterwards”, Kasper tells.

”We practice using courage and curiosity in our work every day. Everyone can always become better – that goes for us as well”.

Mette adds:

“Nordea’s hierarchy is a triangle pointing upwards – with few people telling the direction to many – whereas our hierarchy is completely the opposite. Here it is the majority deciding what the few – the union representatives and the board – are to do. We have the deepest respect for that. In fact, we would very much have been those inventing Nordea’s ‘The idea of something better’. It is SO much the story of our way of working”.

The great solution comes from the dialogue – coming up in a live version

Mads Skovlund Pedersen – Head of Banking DK – has on several occasions been quoted: ’Dialogue is the wonder-cure of our time – this is where the great solution is’.

Kasper has a wish of even more dialogue and says: 

”We have taken Mads up on it and will make the dialogue public in the beginning of June, inviting to a meeting where I ask questions on behalf of the members. The plan is to arrange an ’Internal Talk’ event where colleagues can join physically – and at the same time it will be streamed to all in Nordea DK,” Kasper tells, looking forward to the event.  

The event was inspired by something similar in Danske Bank, and we will come back when we are ready to call for questions.

”I am very excited, looking forward to an openhearted talk on the many topics at presence among our members – and listen to Mads’ perspectives”, says Kasper. 

Mette is looking forward as well.

’”I believe in speaking out loud to influence things. Staying silent doesn’t make the challenges go away – and it is important to us that different perspectives are valued … not just tolerated. But we cannot handle everything just through a dialogue between Mads and Kasper. Local challenges need to be handled where they rise – and we hope that an open, central dialogue can inspire to a continued talk locally – preferably in an environment with a great extent of psychological safety. These talks are luckily already taking place in many areas – often thanks to the many excellent union representatives in our organization. 

Union representatives – without them, no mouthpiece

The election of union representatives (UR) this fall ended with re-elections as well as new representatives. At the time of writing, FiN has 125 UR’s – of them 26 are new in the roll and around a quarter are elected in areas where there wasn’t a UR before.

“We are of course happy that so many wanted to continue in this important position and congratulate them all with their re-election. But it is also important to constantly renew the corps of UR’s, thus it is a great pleasure to say welcome to 26 new colleagues,” Mette Balck Mejlby says.

The 26 new UR will now begin the mandatory training in Finansforbundet. The training enables the UR’s to seriously make a difference to the members – as mouthpiece, bridge-builder, companion and local ‘ears’ for FiN.

“We look forward to meeting all the new colleagues and hear their perspective on the union work – locally as well as ‘the big we’, which Finansforbundet is,” Mette smiles.

Challenging questions to the management

Once every year, all union representatives – local UR’s, senior UR’s and working environment representatives – meet at a two days seminar with a dedicated topic. In November 2023, the topic was ‘influence’, and the 96 participants was inspired by both external and internal speakers with ideas on how to get influence across an organization as well as in local areas. Their inspiration impacted the debate with the management representatives at the seminar. Challenging questions were asked – and the answers showed that the themes were relevant as well as of great importance at ‘the other side of the table’.

Union, senior union and working environment representatives at the annual seminar in November 2023. In the front from the left President Kasper Skovgaard Pedersen, Vice President Mette Balck Mejlby, Helene Bløcher, Head of Business Banking Danmark, and Camilla Beckmann, former Head of People in Danmark og newly appointed Head of Nordea 24/7 Denmark.

“Once again it was clear that there is a huge difference in the collaboration at different areas in Nordea – and the debate painted good pictures of where there is room for improvement. We know that the debate initiated further talks at several places, and I am sure that even the management representatives brought topics with them to think over,” says Kasper.

A highly prioritized collaboration across boarders

Finland, Norway, Poland and Sweden all have unions like Finansforbundet in Nordea. The unions are united in Union in Nordea (UiN), a transnational collaboration, coordinating and handling the contact with Nordea on topics with a common agenda and interest. 

Mette is the president of UiN and she is very proud of the strong partnership. 

2023 Union representatives from the Nordic countries and Poland met for the transnational Annual General Meeting in May 2023

”In fact, there is quite big differences between the countries when it comes to culture and legislation – but along the years we have learnt to understand and make use of those variations to our advantage. And luckily, so many things bind us together. We can learn from each other, and the collaboration in UiN is highly prioritized in all countries. Having the big community as your backup is key when fighting a special case in one country – as i.e. the opposition to all unions in Finland from the government in the country. It is important to stand united and fight against the attacks on the Nordic model, national determined limits of salary increase etc. they experience,” says Mette, also mentioning that UiN through the agreements on Group Council and Consultative Committees (cross national works councils) spares Nordea a lot of national negotiations.

Recently, a clear evident of the collaboration is the survey on hybrid work in Nordea, conducted by UiN. 

“We really stuck together. Helped each other formulating questions, analyzing results, taking the dialogue with Nordea – not mentioning the communication to the members. It has been a real pleasure working together on this,” Mette ends.

Part 1 of 3

Prior to the Annual General Meeting on 19 April you can read three articles, providing you with an idea of what has happened since we met in the 2023 version, virtually and at Crowne Plaza. This is the first in the row.

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