Lars Backsell focuses on the importance of diversity in the job market at the annual meeting of the Council Confederation of Swedish Enterprises

Diversity consultant Gary Baker says that employers who invest on diversity now, will be tomorrow's winners. Employing people from other backgrounds will give the company access to new customer groups, as the basis for sales is about understanding the customer groups.

Europe lags behind the USA and Canada

Even though there are companies, particularly in the biotech sector and other research intensive sectors, that have a relatively large share of highly educated immigrants, Europe is behind the USA and Canada in attracting highly skilled workers with foreign background. What is the best way to benefit from the immigrant's competence was the basis for the seminar on Diversity for Competitiveness which was recently held by the Enterprise Council of the IVA (The Academy of Engineering Sciences). Among others, experts such as Nyamko Sabuni the Minister for Integration and Equality and Anders Flodström a university dean were invited to provide different angles on the possibilities and obstacles for improvement in this area.

Language Proficiency, Basic Values and Education

When Lars Backsell did the introduction in the seminar, as chairman for IVA’s Business Council, he mentioned that it is above all ignorance and insecurity that make many companies hesitate in employing persons with different backgrounds. The integration of newly arrived immigrants must be significantly improved, said Nyamko Sabuni, Minister for Integration and Equality. She affirmed that language proficiency, as well basic values as a minimum common denominator, is the key to a successful integration in the Swedish society that the present government is actively working on. An education system attractive to young people is important to lure young ambitious people, said university dean Anders Flodström, who also spoke of the importance of creating an attractive job market for young people. 

The job market's responsibility to eliminate diversity obstacles

Prejudices and attitudes were also discussed among the different groups, as well as the passive system that prevents integration in the job market. The international competition on high educated labour is getting tighter, which is why politicians and business people need to make a bigger effort to eliminate the obstacles for immigrants to establish themselves in the job market. Tanja Krajinovic from Recipharm AB, who participated in the final debate, stated that HR departments in general should have a more open attitude in recruitment. However, she also pointed out that it's an unnecessary waste of time for job seekers with foreign background to apply for positions in companies that are not open for immigrants and recommended that they should check in advance what the potential employer stands for. Tanja, with her foreign background, has never experienced this as a disadvantage, once she had been called in for an interview.

How does Recipharm do in the diversity comparison?

There is an ongoing extensive diversity work in all of Recipharm’s companies, such as the creation of equality plans, where it is clarified that the individual’s competence to perform his/her job is what is important and nothing else. These plans are based on guidelines that Recipharm has issued centrally, as well as the country's local legislation - which differs somewhat between different countries. Recipharm’s central guidelines focus not only on ethnical background, but mention also gender, faith, handicap, sexual preferences or age. There is no registration of the employees' ethnical background, which is why it is so difficult to provide statistics regarding number of employees with foreign background. It is clear that an active diversity work is necessary to become a winner, according to Gary Baker’s theories.