Embracing a diverse workforce: Emilia Molin | Undutchables

Embracing a diverse workforce: Emilia Molin

Diversity according to Emilia Molin

As promised, hereby the third interview on the topic of Diversity! Undutchables is a true believer of the added value of Diversity and a different cultural background at work, we would like to share some personal points of view concerning this subject and the role it plays in doing international business today and in the future.

Passport:

Name: Emilia Molin 42 years of age

Current position: Managing Director for War Child Sweden based in Stockholm

Family status: Boyfriend Martin and mother of twin boys Isak and Love

Has lived and worked in: Sweden and in Italy

What is the importance of Diversity to you ?

It is something very important! But honestly, I must admit, it has not always been clear to me how important it is. My background is within the advertising business in Stockholm where quite simple said, the expression of Diversity was not something that we talked about. All of my friends, colleagues and students that I went to school with or worked with had more or less the same cultural background as me. I have always been aware of diversity but it was only later in my life when I started working for War Child that I started building a diverse team with different backgrounds.

Foto Emilia Molin

It was at this time, I also realized that building a team of 15 copies of me wasn’t going to be a good idea. There were no doubts that we needed Diversity badly to make War Child Sweden a success. You see, there is nothing to be gained if 10 people write the same story!

Currently I am continuously looking for the right skills in people and that means that I have to step out of my comfort zone all of the time. I now proudly can say that at War Child Sweden we have a diverse team with people from Sweden, the Netherlands, Italy, Kurdistan and South Africa.

I also believe that Diversity means making sure you have a right mix of ages. Personally I see that our younger generation is very good at “living” the trends that are going on in our society, where as the people that have been working for a while, bring other things to the table, like life experience. I strive to have a mixed team but this takes time and patience to build. I have to be actively interested in the team and the team members have to be interested in each other. That is how you can build your own culture. Diversity to me is a culture with people from all different backgrounds and different ages. I also believe positive feedback is very important.

Do you think there is necessity for Swedish businesses to use English as a company language?

Absolutely! But I even want to go so far as to say that any language is a gain to your business. I can tell you a story about the importance on communicating in the right language.

On the 22nd of March from this year War Child Sweden organized a concert to put focus on the 6th year of the ongoing war in Syria. It was a big concert with all of the best artists from all over Sweden. It was a great success. At the concert, I was approached by a Syrian boy. He enjoyed the concert very much but asked me why there weren’t any Syrian singers or groups present, as it was organized to collect money for the Syrian children who are living around this war affected country. We replied that we had tried, but also realized that our communication only reached the city center of Stockholm and not the suburbs. I told the Syrian boy that he was 100% right to ask me this question and invited him in to our office to talk about this. We decide there and then, that we would go to the suburbs and our team came up with a concept, which later became a campaign, where we focused on the suburbs of Stockholm. We translated our material in for example Arabic, Kurdish and Somalis. We went to the suburbs of Stockholm and were surprised by the positive response we got by doing this. People appreciated the fact that we reached out to them in their own language. People emptied there pockets on the spot.

‘So you see language builds bridges. Here too, Diversity is a win, both needs to be embraced!’

What is your personal experience on the subject of Diversity?

As I said in the beginning, Diversity was never a main focus in the advertising world. However, thinking back, Diversity has been with me all the time. I grew up in a “left” oriented family in a very correct and conservative part of Stockholm. Nowadays this area is a mixture of all different people with different nationalities and cultural background. Having this experience as a child, where I was ‘different’ in my own environment - I believe that it is a huge challenge to make Diversity work, but also a huge opportunity for society to use the talent and experiences from people from all over the world.

”Everyone brings something to the table and by the end of the day it is nice to have a buffet instead of eating the same dish every day”

Emilia Molin

What is your personal experience on the subject of Diversity?

As I said in the beginning, Diversity was never a main focus in the advertising world. However, thinking back, Diversity has been with me all the time. I grew up in a “left” oriented family in a very correct and conservative part of Stockholm. Nowadays this area is a mixture of all different people with different nationalities and cultural background. Having this experience as a child, where I was ‘different’ in my own environment - I believe that it is a huge challenge to make Diversity work, but also a huge opportunity for society to use the talent and experiences from people from all over the world.

You work for a Dutch organization in Sweden. What advantages and or disadvantages do you see when two cultures meets?

As War Child originates from the Netherlands, I often have contact with colleagues from the Netherlands. I have learned that when communicating on an international level it is best done when having met the people personally.

An e-mail is a great way to inform people, but very often I find that the essence gets lost in the messageThis very much has to do with the way we people interpret things. Adding cultural background very often ads the chance of miscommunication.

Dutch people are also very often presented as being direct. To me this is not a negative thing. On the contrary! It makes processes quick and makes things happen. I find that Dutch people, by being direct, make decisions and are therefore very effective in what they do. In Sweden we sometimes lack someone taking the lead and making decisions. But I also believe that Dutch people can invest more time and effort in giving positive feedback. I guess it has to do with their Calvinistic background. But imagine what you can accomplish if you mix both of these cultures!

Thank you Emilia for your willingness to share this information with us. To finish off, is there anything you want to share with us?

Yes, I believe that Diversity is the core of War Child Sweden. To help children from all over the world in war affected countries, we must understand the different cultures and try to work with them and for them. Diversity is very important for us as an organization to reach sustainability and we are also very dependent on the local people that are effectively working in the war affected areas. Not being able to communicate or understand them from our side is simply not good. Therefore we work on Diversity at all levels in the company, not only at head office level but throughout the whole organization. For us as War Child Sweden this is the only way forward.

On a personal note I can say this:

”Everyone brings something to the table and by the end of the day it is nice to have a buffet instead of eating the same dish every day”

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