Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion ConsultantCompany: Independent Consultant
Role: Session Presenter
2022 Conference Session:
Imagine Belonging—an Organization Without White Supremacy Culture
Riikka Salonen, MA, has been devoted to justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion work for the past 28 years. Her anti-racist learning journey started in Finland by volunteering for the “All Different–All Equal” campaign and starting a graduate degree in intercultural relations and intercultural communication at the University of Jyväskylä, the first one of its kind in Europe.
She started her American career as an intern at the Intercultural Communication Institute in Portland, Oregon. She was soon hired permanently to offer services to global clients using the Intercultural Development Inventory and participants attending the Summer Institute for Intercultural Communication.
Riikka was a part of a global start-up team creating an ocean-going university, The Scholar Ship, in 2006-2008. She co-led the intercultural residential life and taught intercultural communication, while circumnavigating the world with students and peers from 50 different nations. This journey took her to 17 countries.
For the following 14 years, Riikka served as a DEI leader in the academic and faith-based healthcare organizations in the Pacific Northwest. She specialized in the DEI strategic planning and clinical process improvements for culturally and linguistically responsive and affirming care. Riikka partnered with various culture-specific organizations in advancing health justice during the pandemic, including offering testing, vaccinations, food distributions, and community-based health services. Her skillset is particularly strong with diversity talent acquisitions, including diversity scholarships, equity internships, mentoring, BIPOC workforce development, job carving, and veterans’ employment programs. She has been a catalyst for programs that advance economic prosperity of diverse communities, including supplier diversity and development of BIPOC healthcare workforce.
Riikka is one of the 112 global expert panelists who developed the 2021 Global Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Benchmarks. She was recognized as a Top 21 DEI Influencer by HonestCulture Inc. in 2021, and Glaser & Associates Inc. named her as a Leadership Communication Thought Leader in 2022.
Riikka supports various organizations in their journey of building psychologically safe and inclusive workplace cultures that enhance employees’ capacity to thrive, create a sense of belonging, and serve the community in culturally responsive ways. She has offered her services in 20 countries since 1994.