We make gender balance our business - and we want to make it everyone else’s business too.

Our own Diversity & Inclusion gives us a huge and sustainable advantage over our competitors. Gender parity is vital to any workplace. Not just because it's a laudable goal; it simply makes bottom-line business sense.

It is also the backbone of our innovation. We know that our multiplicity of perspectives sparks creativity, and helps us to spot and seize new opportunities. It also encourages us to always challenge stereotypes.

We understand that our diversity is integral to our success. It enables us to understand the unique needs of our clients and find innovative ways of addressing those needs.

Gender diversity helps us to attract and retain talented women. No company can afford to ignore 50% of the potential workforce and expect to be competitive in the global economy.

We know that only the highest-performing teams, those with different opinions, perspectives, and cultural backgrounds will ultimately succeed in the global marketplace. We encourage different viewpoints, ideas, and market insights, which enables better problem solving, leading to superior performance.

We make sure our teams have a diversity of genders, as well as backgrounds and ethnicities. But we know that hiring women, transgender, or nonbinary people into our workplace isn’t enough. - we empower our teams to not only reach but exceed their full potential.

We welcome diversity - it is essential to how we operate and how we see our future.

Jeff Bezos’ 2 pizza rule is a useful guideline for deciding how many attendees should be invited to a meeting.

In theory, meetings should be small enough so attendees could be fed with two large pizzas to discourage Groupthink and HiPPO, ('Highest Paid Person's Opinion').

Virtual meetings have necessitated (mostly) a reduced number of attendees: “I’m sorry, you go…”/ “No sorry, I was just saying..”/ “What were you saying?”/ “Sorry, we missed that” / “Did you say something?”. Six people suddenly speak at once. Silence. Repeat.

Now that many of us are starting to return to the office, increasingly in-person meetings are going to become part of our daily lives once again. And I am looking forward to it. We are hardwired to pick up on the subtle conversational nuances of hand gestures, facial expressions, posture and even physical touch like a handshake. Body language is an indispensable part of communication.

Smaller meetings can generate a feeling of intimacy which often leads to bolder and franker discussions. Fewer participants also mean more time to listen to and consider another perspective. In turn, the group members feel heard and respected, making them more productive.

So, when you are invited to that in-person meeting, (apart from eating the pizza), what can you do to make an impact?

But, with all the excitement of actually being with real people once again, don’t hog the floor. Be a thought-leader - articulate your expertise and express your point of view, but don’t try to be the smartest person in the room -  you don’t want arrogance to be your most memorable trait.

Lorri Lowe
Partner, London

Friisberg will drive your diversity agenda.

Before writing this article, I had one of those “Blah” days when I felt low and could not put my finger on why. For those who do not know what this is, there is another word for it - languishing. Languishing is a sense of stagnation and emptiness, and if you would like to learn more, I can highly recommend you read Adam Gratton’s article, as posted in the New York Times.

My “Blah” day however, was  lifted by a quote that I found by Sonya Renee Taylor:

"We will not go back to normal. Normal never was. Our pre-corona existence was not normal other than we normalized greed inequity, exhaustion, depletion, extraction, disconnection, confusion, rage, hoarding hate and lack. We should not long to return, my friend. We are being given the opportunity to stitch a new garment. One that fits all humanity and nature "

I am far from an expert in diversity, equality, and inclusion. Still, I have researched the topic during my years working within the talent and leadership profession. As a result, I am passionate about how we harness differences in our workplaces and create a fair playing field for everyone.

I live in Sweden, ranked 1st in the EU on the Gender Equality Index, yet we are still lagging in gender balance regarding our leadership positions. Research from SCB (2020) shows that 41% of Sweden’s total leaders’ population are women and 59% are men -  however, only 17% of Sweden’s CEOs are women.

A recent Di Digital survey reveals the investment distribution to privately-owned technology companies in Sweden. 1% of investments was granted to companies founded by women in 2020. In addition, the share of investment value given to mixed founding teams increased to 11%.

The relationship between diversity and business performance persists and continues to grow, so progress is being made.

Fredrik Hånell, an entrepreneur and investor who currently works as a “business creation director” at EIT Urban Mobility, stated in the Di article, “If entrepreneurs cannot build a gender-equal team, they lack one the most important components for building a successful company. Soon I hope that all start-ups we work with have a female co-founder.”

Gender is only one aspect of equality. As Pride month has come to its end, I reflected on how we, as executive talent consultants and business advisors, can actively support our clients with their diversity, equality, and inclusion agendas.

As a business, you must have an inclusive culture. Research shows that diversity is not just a metric for which to to strive, it is an integral part of a successful revenue-generating business. This does not mean simply having colourful posters throughout your offices stating your values, instead, it is a business strategy and mindset, a commitment and responsibility of all leaders and embraced across the whole organization.

At Friisberg, we:

DE&I matters, and we bring the thought of diversity into our board services assignment or when conducting management audits.

"We are committed to serving our clients by finding diverse leaders and providing an unbiased thought process throughout our consulting process. We have improved our knowledge, by running  internal programs such as Reverse Mentoring and Unconscious Bias training."  Michael Rooslien, Partner, Sweden.

Social and technological changes will continue to transform the landscape in every industry.

Organizations who don’t embrace DE&I will potentially risk earning potentials and falling behind their competitors.

I believe, the companies who create a workplace for everyone will cultivate tremendous value from their people’s differences and thrive.

 Yvonne Erlandsson
Snr Talent Consultant, Sweden

What do women need to make it to the top?

Many résumés for women in top positions read like a handbook to business success. They didn't need a quota, the career steps followed one another seemingly logically, opportunities always presented themselves and women took advantage of them. But there are few - at least in Germany.

The legislature now wants to change that.

The plans for a binding quota of women on executive boards affect almost a third of the 100 largest listed companies in Germany because 29 of them have more than three board members, but no position for a woman, according to an analysis by the Boston Consulting Group.

As a diversity officer, I speak to highly qualified women in management positions every week. Many of them have come along a rocky road, yet not all are in favour of a quota; and have differing opinions on the advancement of women.

But when it comes to the question of what women need above all to make it to the top, they all agree:


Courage to seize opportunities and also to fill uncomfortable roles - even if you do not yet have all the skills.

What do you think?

Do women lack courage?

I look forward to a lively exchange with you!

Message Meltem

Meltem Ay
Principal, Germany

Forging inclusive work cultures where women's careers thrive and achievements are celebrated

"We need more women in leadership"

The world needs more women leaders – whether that is leading companies or running countries. Why? Because gender equal leadership results in a more inclusive and effective society.

Global talent shortages are at a record high (almost double that of a decade ago) so surely it is critical to harness all potential talent. Did you know that although women enter the workforce in relatively equal numbers as men, but the rise to the top can be slower and more challenging for them?

At Friisberg we constantly challenge the status quo and actively seek to create truly inclusive and supportive environments where women can excel and constantly achieve their full potential.

There are many ways companies themselves can aim to attract and retain more women leaders:

Break the male line of succession

A lack of women leaders at the top cannot always be attributed to a lack of female talent. Many women feel blocked from senior ranks due to all-male lines of succession. Breaking this line of succession requires reversing stereotypes. Companies must clearly articulate and make transparent the specific skills and experiences needed for movement into leadership levels and should identify suitable mechanisms for helping women build exposure to the scenarios they need in order to progress.

Offer workplace benefits beyond pay

For companies to attract women into leadership roles, they need to offer more than just good pay, such as employee training and development opportunities, good work/life balance, and flexibility. Many women still remain the primary caregivers outside of working hours, so it is important that companies understand and respect the wide demands often placed on working women.

Look for employees who are willing to adapt

The world of work is changing thanks to the increasing influence of digital technology and this can mean breadth of skills and not always depth. Yet, many companies still require candidates to have many solid years of experience behind them, something that greatly favours men who have not had career breaks. Some of the biggest barrier to women's progress is an entrenched male culture that is based on merits created by men, shaped by presenteeism and defined largely by male standards.

At Friisberg, we always remove bias and barriers from interviews and ensure our assessment criteria are designed with all candidates in mind.

Encourage leaders to take responsibility for their actions

All leaders have the influence to instigate change, so it is important that the words, actions and decisions of leaders are fair and inclusive in promoting and encouraging women.

Leaders should ensure there are adequate policies and strategies in place to create inclusive workplace cultures where people's differences are valued. Such workplaces ensure everyone - regardless of background or identity - is respected, their voices heard and their actions valued.

Lorri Lowe
Partner UK

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