HOUSE OF SCANDINAVIA
Gender balance – a capital ambition
As a breeding ground for creativity, few places in the world can rival Stockholm. The Swedish capital is now widely known as “the unicorn factory,” second only to Silicon Valley in terms of the number of unicorns per capita. It was also ranked second best in attracting and retaining talent in the 2018 Global Talent Competitiveness Index. It sticks out in another area as well – as a particularly good place for women to work, especially in the tech industry.
All of which made SXSW the ideal place for Invest Stockholm to send a delegation not only to extol the virtues of the city but also to promote a major initiative aimed at making it an even better place to work for women.
“Sweden was elected the best country to be a working woman in, in The Economist's glass ceiling index in 2018 and Stockholm, through its gender equality initiative “A Woman’s Place” is proactively supporting the business ecosystem in its quest to create equal opportunities for women and men,” says Marlène Sellebråten, project manager at Invest Stockholm.
A Woman’s Place is based on six principles, drawn up together with experts from Rättviseförmedlingen, Normact and the City of Stockholm’s Office of Human Rights. They are;
This is a place where women are free to fulfill their professional potential.
This is a place where women and men have equal access to resources, knowledge, and networks.
This is a place where women feel safe and free from sexual harassment.
This is a place where women’s and men’s ideas and ambition carry equal weight.
This is a place where women and men have the same opportunities to combine work and private life.
“We want to raise awareness and educate people through this initiative. Ultimately, our ambition is for every company in Stockholm to be part of that change,” adds Sellebråten, while at the same time warning that even though major progress has already been achieved there’s still no room for complacency.
“We try to be modest about it. Stockholm is a fantastic place to work, but there is still a long way to go in several areas, including when it comes to having many women in senior roles.
“We aren’t trying to say that we can do things much better than anybody else, more that in Stockholm we realize we have come a long way and maybe we can help spread at least part of our recipe,” adds Ariane Pousette, Start-ups Project Manager at Invest Stockholm. She makes the point too that this is more than simply creating a fairer workplace.
Research shows that companies founded and run by women, as well as companies with a diverse workfroce, are more successful and more profitable.“We’re seeing more and more that companies managed and run by women are more successful and more profitable. That’s why we are doing our best to encourage not only local women to base their companies in Stockholm, but those from abroad as well.”
What’s clear is that the message, in Stockholm and further afield, is clearly getting through. Just one example was the fact that tickets for the annual Women in Tech conference, held this week in Stockholm, sold out within seconds. The fact that it takes place on International Women’s Day is no coincidence.
Invest Stockholm is running two events in Austin during SXSW – one on gender equality, the other on the rising influence of music tech in the city. Spotify is an obvious example of a local company going global, while another, Epidemic Sound, the second fastest growing Swedish tech company, according to The FT, has also achieved spectacular success in a short period of time.
“SXSW is a fantastic festival of creativity, which makes it a perfect place for us to come and share what we think is great about Stockholm – our DNA, our values, having a good work-life balance, as well as a good gender balance,” says Sellebråten. “At the same time, we are here to get inspiration and share experiences with companies, other countries and cities. We’re here to meet people and share networks.”