Tag Archives: equality

Nordic Gender Inequality

I am Swedish, and when I say I’m Swedish, eyes and faces lit up – Ah, the Homeland of The Equals. Where fathers stay at home with their children for months and no one thinks twice about it. Where instead of he or she, a gender neutral word has been introduced in the language. Where women detectives roam the streets (a step up from the polar bears), and where we all live in perfect homes furnished by Scandinavian designers.

Ah, the wonders of the country that takes over the world one four letter acronym at a time…

But then there is the truth. And the truth is seldom beautiful. The truth is that when it comes to gender equality in the workplace Sweden is a failed state. And there are numbers to prove it. In his excellent book ”The Nordic Gender Equality Paradox”  Dr. Nima Sanandaji clearly shows how the Nordic well fare states hold women back, rather than the opposite. Proportionally, Nordic countries tops only Cyprus when it comes to women amongst directors and chief executives. And they fall well behind more conservative neighbours like the Baltic. In fact in EU27 best in class in Bulgaria with almost 48%.

So what would any well-meaning government do to change this? Introduce new legislation. What else? But it is a legislation that a minority supports and I have yet to meet one woman that supports positive discrimination against us. Why should we support measures that promotes inequality and makes no difference when it comes to our accomplishments? No one seems to be able to answer these questions, because seemingly no one seems to ask it.  Besides no one has shown me WHY it is of importance to achieve this gender balance. It can be said that business have developed rather splendid these past 200 years without women on board, so why change a winning formula? Yes, I am convinced that balanced compositions are better and more effective than unbalanced. And I think it’s bad for branding when I see boards 100% male. But nowhere have I found support for my belief that balanced is better than not. And before we start setting unwanted legislation in place, how about some evidence?

Make no mistake, I’d love to sit on a board. But I want to be on that board because I bring valuable expertise to it. Not because of my combination of XY chromosomes. If that is the only reason it is degrading, unequal and arrogant.

Gender Equality in the Board Room

To all of you crying out for women in your board room I have the following question and comment:

  • What is you think a woman can do but a man can’t? (And vice versa…)
  • Instead of crying, open your eyes and look around. We’re here and we’re competent.

Equal pay, ICT industry, men, women and profiling

The so called gaffe by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and his statements about women, pay, and the pay gap and some of the opinion pieces penned as a result made me wonder. I frankly don’t think that Mr Nadella thinks that women should be paid less than men, but I do believe that he (unfortunately) might be on the correct side of history when he says that women often can be more uncomfortable in asking in any job related situation than most men.

John Fortt has penned a good opinion piece about the situation where I think he is on to something. In the piece Mr Fortt asks if meritocracies can be biased and he gives #Netflix as an example, from personal experience I can only answer that “Yes” and that includes Netflix.

But the basic issue that needs to change isn’t so much the payment practises as such, they are only the result of the basic flaws and symptoms on the sickness – that unless you as an employee is recognisable by the high-tech recruiter you will not even get hired so forget about getting the pay you deserve.

In my business and city, all one have to do is to take a look around and you start singing the old James Brown song “This is a man’s world” but without adding the following praise to women. There are so many organisations representing the [ICT] industry that only have men hired, or only men at the senior levels, it is frightening. Saying the industry is a bit of a lad is an understatement of the century. So, based on the fact that we women doesn’t even count enough to get hired, why do we even bother about the payment scales? I am not saying it isn’t important and that they need to be adjusted, but if we as women doesn’t even count in the work force? So sorry, people, let’s start with the basics and see to that we as women count, get hired and that our competencies count as much as a men’s so we get hired, then we can deal with the payment scales.

Swedish and Norwegian men say No Thanks to male only panels

As you know I am not a proponent of affirmative actions to get more women on board (yes, I mean this in the word’s widest meaning). Quite on the contrary. But when asked what I propose as solution to the sorry situation I have been lost for words. Because in order to achieve a change it is privileged class that has to initiate it, and why would anyone voluntarily give up power and influence? So maybe affirmative action was the only way forward?

And then, lo and behold, a miracle happened – someone alerted (Thank you, Megan Browne!) me to this campaign: Men say No, Thanks. The campaign has been going since November 2013 and has this far attracted 200 signatures in Sweden only. According to the Tacka nej-website:

The idea is that men, when they are invited to speak at a conference or participate in a debate panel, will ask whether women are represented on the programme. If not, they will turn the invitation down say no, thanks.

– There is a lot of talk about gender equality, but we decided to do something about it. This kind of initiatives can make organizers to really find the best and most competent persons to put on stage, Fredrik Wass co-founder of #TackaNej in Sweden.

In particular I like the approach that it is competence, not sex, that is the important and deciding factor.

Our goal is to turn Say No, Thanks into a Say Yes, Please yes to more female speakers and more diversity in debates and conferences.

A sentiment I fully support, change through Yes is better and achieves far far-reaching results.

Now, whom will take this up elsewhere? I sincerely hope it will not remain a regional two-country initiative.

Affirmative action for Women in the EU – No, thank you!

The other day I attended an event in Brussels. In a networking town like this, and Washington DC, that is nothing unusual. It was an industry event, so people representing their companies working with public affairs and in IT and Internet in general. So relatively ”new” industries. That isn’t anything exceptional either. No what was so exceptional was that of the maybe 50 people present four (4) were women. Of which one woman was married to one of the guys attending the event.

Yes, you read correct – out of 50 people, 3 were women working in the industry. And this is a fairly normal room in this town.

I find the figures remarkable and the situation so wrong I can’t begin to explain. And probably shouldn’t because, to quote President Reagan “You can’t print what I think.” But I still don’t want legislation remedying this.

Why don’t I want legislation to deal with this unbalance? First of all, affirmative action is discrimination, it departs from the principle that equal rights are always right. Affirmative actions leads to polarization, collectivization, and identity politics. Should increasingly educated women, all over the world, which on our own merits, sometimes against all odds, made it through tough educations be discarded in a future where men find it increasingly difficult to keep up? Because, one must see that affirmative action goes both ways.

These irrelevant criteria – gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, the list is endless, which helps individuals to advance their careers, will also be the defining criteria should this individual fall. Individual skills won’t matter, these criteria will still define the individual and spill over on the group as such, i.e. a woman gets on in her career to through affirmative action, if she fails ALL women become incompetent. Affirmative action also suppose that individuals are exchangeable which clearly we are not. So, in my case, as long as we have a woman on our team, we’re fine. Does that even begin to sound right to you?

Finally, there is the minor detail about property and private ownership, a privately owned company, indeed any company shouldn’t be required to hire any one else than the person they believe can do the job.

Still, 3 professional women in a room of 50 professionals seems, well – unbalanced.