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

In our line of work, we are privileged to work with brilliant leaders.

We aim to get to know you by understanding your leadership style together the philosophy and culture of your business. This is an integral part of attracting, developing and retaining great talent for your organisation.

The pandemic has encouraged a new set of leadership behaviours and empathy has emerged as a critical skill.

Whether it has been to manage a remote team during the pandemic, or ensuring employees are safe when going onto a site, business leaders have had to focus on their team’s health and well-being while sustaining a culture that brings out the best in them.

A recent global study by HBR (Harvard Business Review) highlighted that 89% of professionals felt their work-life balance was getting worse. It is therefore essential to listen to the individuals in your team and imagine what it would be like to be in their shoes. As Executive Search and Management Consultants we appreciate the importance of this, every day, from both a candidate and client perspective.

Clearly the economic impact of Covid-19 differs from a larger, established business compared with a SME or a start-up. We have also noted industry specific trends and those less impacted have continued to hire at pace. Conversely, other businesses have had to instigate cost-saving programs, resulting in resizing or restructuring of teams.

In either of the above situations, we have consistently remained the first point of contact, whether for someone who recently been made redundant and is looking for a new opportunity, or helping an organisation grow at pace with the right talent. Leaders have found themselves in situations where they must let go of their people, but some have lacked the experience or skill to do it with empathy.

Being emphatic extends beyond your team, beyond your business and should include those with whom you interact daily. People buy from people and creating a win-win situation will lead to everyone benefiting.

To ensure a better outcome and improved experience for you as the hiring manager, and your candidates:

Several research papers indicate a re-emergence of a War for Talent during 2021 and there is no doubt it remains a highly competitive hiring landscape. Randstad Risesmart UK polled 85 HRDs, from organisations employing approximately 50,000 people, to establish their views on talent in the wake of Covid-19. Almost two-thirds (65%) reported that organisations will need the best people on board to help them rebuild following the pandemic.

Candidates engage with employers and brands when they are treated as individuals.

We believe that showing empathy enables you to differentiate yourself and your business in this highly competitive talent market.

Yvonne Erlandsson, Senior Consultant

Göran Björkman, CEO Sandvik Materials Technology & Chair Swedish Association of  Industrial Employers

Talks with: Peter Strandberg, Partner, Friisberg & Partners Sweden & President Friisberg & Partners International

Since the Covid-19 Crisis began, what steps have you taken?

When the Covid-19 Crisis began and ever since we have focused primarily on our employees’ health taking our cooperate responsibilities seriously.

Sandvik’s moto is always “Safety first” and we have tried now, as always, to live by that moto. We have tried to follow all restrictions and regulations as stated by the different Governments around the world to minimize the risk of viral transmission such as restrictions when traveling, quarantining people if they came from “at risk” areas, allowing people to work from home, conducting most meetings virtually and limiting the numbers of people in one place at meetings.

Business-wise we immediately recognised that this was an event that would affect us very much. With that in mind we devised various scenarios enabling us to plan accordingly and be ready for anything.

Of course everything we anticipated didn’t turn out exactly the way that we imagined, but it definitely made it easier for us to understand what we had to deal with and then make the necessary adjustments.

What lessons have cities learned from this crisis so far?

Irrespective of the crisis, it is good to be agile and act as soon as you possibly can - even if you do not have all facts to hand. You have to take control of the situation and even if you can’t control it, you have to try to be proactive. Try to create realistic scenarios and start to execute accordingly, but also have an open and flexible mind and be willing to change your decisions and guidelines when needed.

When will the situation change?

This is impossible to say of course, but in the short term, for our business, we must continue to de-leverage and by having effective cost control navigate through the next few months. Hopefully we have now reached the bottom, however when and how fast we will see a rise depends on many things. Perhaps if we are lucky we might see some recovery by the end of this year, but how big and how fast still remains to be seen and will rely on many unknowns such as if there might be a second wave, or if a vaccine is shown to be effective.

The things that were important before will remain just as and more important afterwards.

What will be the biggest lessons learned?

We have a short memory so I think a lot of things will at least, for a while, go back to more of how it was before - at least in the short term.

Taking a longer perspective, the situation has forced all organizations to rethink policies, for example travel to and from where people can effectively work. Working from different locations means of course that the logistics must be in place, but also the way organizations are structured, set up and managed might need to change.

In terms of the efficacy of the leaders and the way their performance is measured some managers will adapt, but some will not. Those aspects of business we took for granted all over the world before the pandemic, such as face to face meetings, might be replaced in the long-term with virtual tools.

Companies have amended the way they go to market using all sorts of new technology and have to be organized to facilitate that. People are now learning quickly because right now they have to - they are learning by ‘doing’ and not from ‘education’. This methodology will inevitably elicit a much better uptake and sustain these behaviours better than any training.

To our surprise we have discovered that looking again at the way we conduct our own business might just make our own impact and contributions even better. Hopefully this also means that we will have even more flexibility in our organisations, and that we will be better at measuring our performance.

Performance management will be even more important!

This new way of working and behaving will also put bigger demands on governance, and the capability of managers will be even more important. They have to be able to balance between good performance and not making people work too much. In a flexible organisation, where you can work from wherever, there is a risk that the good people never stop working and that brings its own problems such as health issues.

Are you optimistic about after Covid-19?

Yes, absolutely! I am always optimistic there will be a good future out there … I think!

It’s just a matter of getting there and as I said before, what was important before will also be important afterwards. There is no doubt that we will all be affected one way or another and might have to prioritise a little differently, both as professionals and as individuals.

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