Lassi Haaranen appointed as Vice Head of Diversity at the Department of Computer Science
University Lecturer Lassi Haaranen has been appointed Vice Head of the Department of Computer Science starting September 1, 2023. Haaranen, who has been a member of the department since starting his Master’s degree in 2010, will oversee issues related to equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) at the department.
‘I’ve seen how things change – and how they don’t,’ Haaranen says. ‘I’m looking forward to working closely with our EDI committee and supporting their work. Issues related to equity, diversity and inclusion are crucial for the wellbeing of our our students, faculty and staff.’
In autumn 2022, the Department of Computer Science became the first department at Aalto University to have an appointed Vice Head of Diversity in its management team.
‘When I started considering the department leadership team before I started a year ago, the first thing in my mind was that we should have somebody dedicated to diversity,’ says Janne Lindqvist, associate professor and head of department. ’For example, we have roughly 40 tenure-track professors, and only three of them are women.’
A department-level EDI committee was also established to serve as a platform to engage with personnel, foster open dialogue and cultivate a culture of understanding and collaboration. Haaranen will continue the essential work initiated by his predecessors, University Lecturer Talayeh Aledavood and Associate Professor Maarit Korpi-Lagg.
‘EDI work takes a lot of effort, especially at a department this big, and that burden shouldn't fall entirely on people who are already dealing with these problems,’ says Korpi-Lagg. ‘In our community, Lassi is known as an empathic person who’s always willing to listen and therefore the right person to continue our work.’
Haaranen’s interest for the position began with a question he kept asking himself.
‘If I acknowledge the existence of inequity, why am I not working more actively to correct it? I want to set an example for other people from dominant groups to get involved because we’re all responsible for our community’s wellbeing,’ says Haaranen. ‘However, I don't have the answers – I don't think any individual person can have them – that's why it's important to have the EDI committee with a diverse set of people in terms of their experiences, thoughts and opinions.’
The Department of Computer Science is the largest and one of the most international departments at Aalto University, with nearly 500 employees from more than 60 different countries. Therefore, the department has a special responsibility in engaging with EDI issues within the department and the society at-large. Creating a welcoming and equitable environment is also vital to continue attracting the best talent from around the world.
‘If we want to be able to recruit and retain world-class talent, we also need to focus on people's wellbeing once they’re here,’ says Haaranen. ‘It’s not just about being able to attract talent, it’s also about enabling people to flourish.’
In monthly EDI (equity, diversity and inclusion) discussions, members of Aalto personnel gets together to discuss how to advance equity, diversity and inclusion at our work.