The non-profit Diversity Charter Sweden association operates a network where members help each other to find successful ways to develop their diversity efforts. They meet regularly to share knowledge on how businesses can better include competence.
“Today there are far more people leaving the labor market than are replaced, and all of Europe is competing for the same workforce," says Katarina Önell, President of the Diversity Charter Sweden.
The demographic development has led to the fact that working life must be extended. While large portions of the population are getting older and need to be taken care of, there are many people outside the labor market. This equation doesn’t add up, and throughout Europe the lack of manpower is a real threat to companies’ development and survival. In many countries, integration takes far too long and now the business community actively strives to solve the problems.
“It is obvious that the acute shortage of manpower and the willingness to cooperate are strong driving forces for many companies,” says Katarina Önell.
Diversity Charter launched in 2004 in France where companies like L’Oreal and Sodexo realized the need to make a real community effort to bring young people from diverse ethnic backgrounds, contacts and training into the labor market. Even though the basic idea was social responsibility, companies quickly realized the many effects on innovation, talent supplements and business value. Currently, 25 percent of France’s employers are members of the Diversity Charter.
Charters have been established in a number of countries and in 2010, ten companies got together and started Diversity Charter Sweden, which currently has 50 members. “Fredagskunskap om mångfald” is a popular event that is organized seven times per year on issues regarding diversity. The topic for the meeting in May was, “How do we get individuals and groups to thrive and develop - together?”
These kind of practical issues permeate the network, because it is in everyday work life the work needs to be done. Diversity Charter Sweden’s views on diversity are defined: “We see diversity as a resource and know that our members’ competitiveness, business benefits and business development gain from diversity and inclusion.”
The membership gives the opportunity to exchange experiences, inspiration and tools in Sweden and Europe. Today it is seen as a seal of quality for diversity at work. Here you can find out more about the Diversity Charter across the EU
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Diversity management in 5 steps
Member companies share their knowledge and experiences with each other. Katarina Önell is Client Service Director for Employee Research & Consulting at marketing research company TNS Sifo, which works with diversity through a five-step process:
- Create awareness
Diversity issues must be recognized, defined and handled at the management level.
- Perform a situational analysis
Go through the business from a diversity perspective and ask yourself some tough questions.
- Develop a diversity strategy
Anchor diversity as a business strategy and communicate it carefully.
- Set concrete goals
Develop measurable goals based on challenges found in the situational analysis.
- Celebrate progress
Rejoice in progress, follow up and learn from mistakes.