Diversity is crucial for creating an inclusive and innovative company. Accordingly, we have set clear targets for increased diversity by 2020.

Diversity and integration are two of the most important social and sustainability issues of our time. In recent years, we have gained somewhere in the range of 100,000 new Swedes. Society is changing.

“Axel Johnson is to be a positive force for change in society. Diversity makes our operations better.” Caroline Berg, Chairman, Axel Johnson

Diversity helps us to make smarter choices when it comes to innovation and to better understand our customers. We can attract the best expertise and recruit from the full spectrum of the talent pool. At the same time, this contributes to reducing alienation in society. We have diversity targets to this end. By 2020, our companies are to have an equal gender spread among managers, and at least 20 percent of our managers are to have international backgrounds. We track this trend annually and our companies undertake several activities to increase diversity.

In 2017, Axel Johnson launched Axelerate Leadership Program, a customized leadership development program to identify and develop talents with an international background. Read more about the program here.

Furthermore, we are a joint owner of Mitt Liv, a non-profit company that promotes a community in which everyone has equal opportunities. More than 150 of Axel Johnson’s managers have participated in ÖppnaDörren, an initiative launched by Axfoundation in 2015 to help new and established Swedes to meet.

Caroline Berg on Axel Johnson’s diversity work

Caroline Berg, Chairman, Axel Johnson

“As a family company, we have always believed that enterprise is one of the primary forces that can create change in society. We have worked with equality and diversity since the 1980s. Driving forces: We want to have employees and managers who reflect our customers and society at large. This makes us a more successful company; we understand our customers better and recruit from the entire talent pool. We also want to contribute to increased integration in society.”

The targets for 2020 are ambitious. What is the status?
“Looking at the results from the past two years, this trend includes both positive and negative tendencies. In terms of gender spread, we see that we have achieved our target in management positions, except at the highest management level, where approximately one-third of the employees are women. In terms of international background, we have increased the percentage in management positions but unfortunately, there are fewer at the highest management level. We need to work harder to achieve our target. Increasing diversity takes time and requires a great deal of work each day. Without the enormous commitment that we have from our key personnel, we would not have progressed as far as we have. One thing that I’m proud of is that we have 1,700 employees from Samhall within the Group.”

What three pieces of advice would you give to others who want to increase their diversity efforts?
“Set goals, measure and follow up!”