The competitive edge of diversity

Scandinavian companies have long found success expanding into new international markets, but taking the values that have made them stand out and be so respected hasn’t always translated in terms of working practices. Klarna is a great example of the benefits it can bring.

Founded in 2005 in Stockholm, Klarna, the e-invoicing and payment unicorn has been a major fintech success story for Stockholm and beyond. The company tripled profits to SEK 346 million in 2017 and is undergoing a rapid expansion program.

Lindy Crea, Senior Commercial Manager of Global Partnerships is responsible for growing Klarna internationally.

“We’re expanding rapidly in the US, working with a lot of international brands. Several Swedish brands, including H&M have invested in Klarna, so were helping to support them globally – we’re already up to 2,500 employees and some 100,000 merchants. So recruitment is high on our priority list, but with those numbers, we need to work out how to do it well,” Crea says.

Crea was at the House of Scandinavia to take part in a panel discussion about gender diversity and gender-balanced unicorns. 

“Klarna is one of the unicorns represented here to discuss issues of diversity and how we achieve more gender balance, especially in the fintech arena, which has been a little more challenging in terms of diversity.”

The fintech sector is still heavily male dominated, but the Klarna organization has taken several strides to counteract this, not least in a series of initiatives designed to support increased diversity.

“Diversity is key. It brings creativity to problem solving. We need diverse perspectives in what is an extremely fast-moving sector. Today, we have 78 nationalities represented at Klarna, and a female proportion that is significantly higher than most of our competitors.

There’s still room for improvement though, and one of our major KPIs is to ensure that at least 40% of the workforce is female, with a much-increased number in senior roles as well.”

A major area they have gained advantages is in maternity/paternity leave. Unusually for an American company, Klarna staff, both male and female, are entitled to 20 weeks leave, which gives the company a clear competitive advantage in terms of recruitment.

“This is profound for those of us in the US, because parental leave is not supported by the government, it’s a cost to the company” says Crea. “This is vital for us, especially as we have a young workforce, and it’s something we’re able to do because we come from a large Swedish organization. Our employees are really just getting used to it, but it does give us an advantage, especially when you’re trying to recruit for very difficult engineering roles. And as a recruiter, I love being able to tell new staff members about what we can offer.” 


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