For Telia Carrier, diversity is the backbone

19 April 2016

Lewis from Cameroon, Jonas from Sweden, Alexandra from Ukraine, Rami from Syria, Iskandar from Tajikistan and Anna from Portugal. These are just a few of the 20 different nationalities working with customer support at Telia Carrier, a company whose entire focus is on diversity.

Erik Ullenhag, political group leader for the Liberal party and the economic policy spokesperson, visited Telia Carrier to discuss diversity in business and how Sweden can become better at integration.

Telia Carrier operates one of the world's largest IP networks with 45 percent of Internet traffic and it was the first to offer 100G connections on both sides of the Atlantic. The company continues to grow but has deliberately chosen not to outsource customer support since it is at the very heart of the organization.

Currently, the customer support department represents some 20 nationalities from six continents. Working globally but thinking locally is how they solve 80 percent of the problems that arise from the initial customer contact. Customers are always able to speak to a technically knowledgeable person that also speaks their language.

Employees in customer support have all made their own journey, and have different experiences of their reception on the Swedish labor market. Most of them have studied at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, but despite university degrees and extensive knowledge of languages ​​they have had difficulty finding employment. In a long conversation with Erik Ullenhag they shared their experiences, and also gave suggestions on how companies can become better at integration.

3 tips for a smoother entrance to the labor market

  • Sweden gives everyone the opportunity to study for free. But companies must become better at attracting those foreign students who are willing to stay and work here. As it now stands, most of them return to their home countries after graduation and companies are missing out on important expertise.
  • In their resumes, foreign students tend to focus on listing their education while Swedish employers are more interested in their experience. Helping the students to understand this fact, such typical cultural misunderstandings are avoided.
  • Lose the fear of foreign names! Many applicants never even get the chance for a first interview. One of the employees mentioned that only after he had changed the name on his application, did he get a response. And after he found employment at Telia Carrier, other companies contacted him.

But there are also some good examples. One of them is Rami Khreim who got a position at Telia Carrier via MultiMind:

“I was not looking for a place but for a future, and Sweden is the best place for me to grow.”

Read Rami's employee portrait here.

Text: Maria Lindberg Howard