Embracing a diverse workforce: Håkan Rantakeisu

Diversity according to Håkan Rantakeisu

Hereby our second interview on the topic of diversity in Sweden! Undutchables, as a true believer of the added value of diversity and different cultural backgrounds at work, 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:  Håkan Rantakeisu

Current position: Owner and founder of Grow Internationals Sweden

Family status: Living together with Italian girlfriend

Has lived and worked in: Hong Kong, China, Denmark, Indonesia, Serbia, Spain

What is diversity to  you ?

Let me start by saying I truly believe Sweden needs diversity. Why? Sweden is quite simple in urgent need of skilled labor of all kind. I even go as far to say at all levels of industry. On a micro level I think you can be 10 times more effective just by mixing people from different cultural backgrounds. You see there is no point in making copies of yourself all of the time.

You have to keep in mind that Sweden is a country that is very depending on their foreign trade. We do not have a choice. In order to do this in a professional way, we have to start by understanding the different cultures that we are trying to do business with. This does not start in the country of origin, but already here in Sweden on a day to day basis.

Foto Håkan Grow

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

It depends. If for example you have a sales position where Swedish is required because the customers are schools for example, then it is obvious that you have to be able to speak proper Swedish.

In some areas of business, where there is a shortage of skilled labor, perhaps some companies and organizations have to rethink on how to make changes in order to integrate non Swedish speaking talents. But it takes more than only changes of the companies. Think of all the bureaucracy when validating a foreign diploma for example, working permits, or how to integrate skilled dentists into the system etc. So yes, where possible, English would make it more dynamic. However, it is not only the language that needs to be leveraged. They should have international ambassadors on key positions within an organization! 

Diversity can be implemented at all levels within the organization, not only on top level positions.

Håkan Rantakeisu

What is your personal experience on the subject of Diversity?

I have been living and working abroad and I know the importance of Sweden being open to international business. Sweden has a good reputation internationally and we have a lot to gain on internationalizing our business climate in Sweden as well. Also, my partner is from Italy so I experience cultural differences every day!

Your clients are companies that are working with expats. You offer Swedish language courses, job coaching and cultural training for the expats and their spouses. What is your best advice to these Swedish companies that are working with expats?

It is very important for the companies to understand how it is for a spouse of an expat, to come to Sweden and integrate here. Through our cultural trainings, workshops and the community we offer, the spouse will be given the opportunity to quickly make friends and feel at home in their new country. If an expat spouse is unhappy, in the end the expat will feel unhappy and then it is not a successful expat assignment.  My advice is to not underestimate the added value of expats to the Swedish job market and  the knowledge the spouses bring as well. Diversity can be implemented at all levels within the organization, not only on top level positions.  

Why should Swedish companies embrace diversity and how can they see the added value of this?

There is a lot to gain by implementing all aspects of diversity into the Swedish working environment. One obvious thing is to understand various business climates in different countries and how to succeed in growing your revenue, which we as a country are depending on. Also, there is so much talent coming here so use it! Instead of going hunting abroad for new candidates, you could probably find a lot of skilled individuals already in the country.

Thank you Håkan for your willingness to share this information with us!  To finish off, is there anything you wish to add?

I work with expats and I see that there are many assignments that still fail, due to the partner not feeling integrated into the society in Sweden. Sweden is known as an open country with open minded and friendly people, but I think we need to open up even more, think more out of the box, step more out of the comfort zone in order to make all integration of diversity successful, at all levels and in all kinds of business sectors.  

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