The Value of Cultural Diversity in Sweden
In response to SIT – Sveriges Internationella Talanger’s most recent blog post regarding the great debate in Sweden as to whether there is a VALUE to cultural diversity, I have to say – Are we really really having this conversation in 2014? Shouldn’t this be a no-brainer?
SIT seeks to be the network for international professionals who want to succeed in the Swedish business market. Yes, yes – It seems that highly educated foreign professionals need help in succeeding in the Swedish market place. I have written about my observations regarding this here and here and here. SIT has worked tirelessly at opening doors and minds to the benefits of a diverse and multicultural work force in Sweden.
On September 26, 2014, SIT launched a panel discussion between foreign academics and Swedish representatives of the business world in an attempt to understand why, despite the many highly educated foreign professionals seeking work in Sweden, that these people are being consistently being overlooked.
- What is stopping companies from hiring foreign academics who come here with both education and experience plus a drive to succeed and contribute to their new homeland?
- Why is global competence undervalued in a country where the local market measures just 9 million and which therefore must look to foreign markets for more customers?
- Why don’t the workforces in Swedish businesses reflect the composition of the Swedish society, 15% of which (conservatively) is made up of people who come from foreign lands?
Well evidently, it is a matter of semantics. On October 3, 2014, SIT reported that one of the things they learned in their panel discussion is that “there is a paradox here in Sweden and it is due to bad definitions.”
While Swedish companies say they are in need of qualified people, the definition is up for debate. According to SIT, qualified here in Sweden evidently means “one who is experienced and educated in Sweden”. From my experience, it also means one who also is fluent in the Swedish language. This, therefore, – by definition – excludes all other individuals seeking work in the Swedish work force. This, in fact, excludes all other people IN THE WORLD.
I think the thing that really trips my trigger with this is that there is an actual debate, or let us diplomatically call it – a lack of understanding – as to how anyone other than a Swede could possibly contribute to the Swedish workforce in any meaningful way. Earlier this year, The Local – Sweden, posted an invitation for it’s readers to explain Why Sweden Needs Foreign Workers. Seriously? There needs to be more explanations?
So let me get this straight: The problem here, evidently, is that while Sweden will open it’s arms to hundreds of thousands of refugees and immigrants, Sweden really doesn’t understand what it is that these people will bring – of value – to the workforce and to Swedish society? Well, isn’t that something?
Writer/photographer Lisa Mikulski. Available for print or online publications and business in the Nordic region, Europe, and the U.S. Editorial, features, marketing copy, and public relations. Contact me here or at lisa @ 2sweden4love.com