Today’s Sweden is undergoing social change of a magnitude and type unprecedented in its history, which is likely to change the face of Sweden both literally and figuratively. In response to the rate of change, and in contrast to the U.S. experience which spanned centuries, Sweden’s business community will need to quickly adjust to a very new situation in which companies must think anew about the value of addressing diversity – in the markets they serve, in the communities where they operate and in the workplace.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has been a mainstay of American business for decades and takes many forms. At the core is the concept that companies have a responsibility to contribute to the communities in which they operate, often with greater focus on lower-income communities characterized by higher percentages of ethnic and cultural diversity. Over the years, most companies have moved from a mindset of philanthropy and,”It’s the right thing to do”, to recognizing and building upon links to everyday business.
In Sweden, CSR has historically addressed needs abroad because the country’s tax and welfare systems have largely blunted domestic growth of lower-income communities; therefore, the perceived need for CSR has been less and the diversity discussion kept relatively narrow. For cultural and historical reasons, diversity initiatives have been centered primarily on promoting gender equality, with Sweden admired globally for its progress in this area. Meanwhile, discussions around ethnic diversity have been relatively muted, at least until recently when the Sweden Democrats began to force a discussion on immigration and, in the process, rose to become the third largest political party.
What lessons might be drawn from the U.S. experience with CSR and diversity, and what innovations are already taking place on the Swedish scene now that the percentage of foreign-born persons in Sweden (16%) exceeds that of the U.S. (13.1%)? Is the tendency to ”push” the Swedish model to other countries now ready to ”pull” new learnings from newly-arrived immigrants who bring with them different mindsets, fresh approaches, higher risk thresholds and new culturally-driven needs and wants?
Please join The American Club of Sweden and The American Chamber of Commerce in Sweden (AmCham) as we explore these challenging and sensitive subjects, and to hear of innovative approaches to integrating diversity into Sweden’s corporate landscape offered by our guest speakers who bring a broad range of perspectives to the subject:
Dr. Maureen Eger, Department of Sociology, Umeå University
Maureen is an American sociologist who conducts research on migration and integration, and how the world’s changing demographics are changing countries’ economic and social landscapes
Rafael Bermejo, Founder and Chairman of the International Entrepreneur Association in Sweden (IFS)
In addition to IFS’ well known Årets Nybyggare award for top immigrant entrepreneurs presented each year by King Carl XVI Gustaf, Rafael is a driving force behind a new pilot program co-founded with AmCham and the U.S. Embassy to promote so-called supplier diversity, modeled after a common U.S. practice that many companies have at the core of their CSR work
Marie Nilsson, Nordic Diversity Engagement Leader, IBM Svenska AB
With core expertise in diversity management, talent programs, LGBT initiatives, transgender process management and intercultural communication, Marie will share IBM's business case for diversity and CSR, including how they intertwine and how IBM’s customers are becoming increasingly intrigued by how IBM works with diversity from business perspectives.
Gary Baker (moderator), EY Sustainability Services and Vice Chairman of AmCham
Gary has worked extensively with CSR and diversity in the U.S. and Sweden, has served on a number of nonprofit boards and has been a key contributor to the startup of several Swedish CSR initiatives including the supplier diversity pilot project in collaboration with IFS and Tillsammans Mot Korruption.
Doors open 17:30 and no admissions after 18:00.
Program: 18:00-19:30 panel discussion, 19:30-20:30 mingle including wine and canapés
Registration: Please register here via the American Club of Sweden's website no later than Thursday, January 21st. Places are limited. Please bring your ID to clear Residence security.
Cost: SEK 100 for American Club of Sweden, AmCham and Swedish Fulbright Alumnae Association members, SEK 150 for guests. Payment at the door. Please bring precise cash or pay by iZettle.