Insights about Diversity and Inclusion
Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) has become a popular topic among international companies as it involves creating a workplace that values and respects individuals with diverse backgrounds, experiences and perspectives. In order to exchange ideas and proposals to support individual and community growth on D&I, International House Gothenburg organized a week dedicated to "Diversity and Inclusion" which brought together professionals and highly skilled internationals from 17 different nations.
At International House Gothenburg we are committed to integration of internationals into Swedish society by providing information and guidance. For the last two years we have offered talent advisory services, workshops and events on various topics, including the Swedish education system, business culture, networking, housing and other vital areas. Our ultimate goal is to equip newcomers with the necessary tools and knowledge to thrive in their new environment.
"When talents, inspirational speakers and companies join our different activities, they exchange knowledge, values, skills and world-views. In this way we contribute to generating an inclusive environment where everyone feels welcome", says Lovisa Bohlin, Manager at International House Gothenburg (IHG).
During Diversity and Inclusion week at International House Gothenburg, Iris Öhrn, a Life Science expert originally from Cuba with over two decades of residency in Sweden, shared her personal experience about the significance of diversity and inclusion in her career journey. Among her valuable insights, she emphasized the importance of having a mentor to guide one's career path in Sweden.
"It has never been an universally applicable recipe for integrating or adapting when moving into a new country. Many of us arrive with plenty of skill sets, expertise and professional contacts from our home countries. As you, I was confronted by new values and another business culture. We need to address the challenges with openness and be ready to spend time in mastering the basis of the Swedish language, joining relevant social and business networks, but also in some cases, even be prepared to start in lower paid occupations. Furthermore, in my case, volunteering and internships were important starting points", says Iris.
In the integration process Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) play a relevant role in embracing different perspectives and ideas, fostering a sense of belongingness and celebrating uniqueness. On March 15th, IHG launched the event "Diversity and Inclusion: challenges and lessons from international talents", which brought together over 50 professionals and highly skilled internationals from 17 countries. The event aimed to exchange ideas and proposals to support individual and community growth.
Noama Alsonfi, an English teacher from Syria who moved to Gothenburg from Qatar in 2022, expressed her feeling after the event: "I understood that here they appreciate diversity and make efforts to integrate all people from different nationalities, different backgrounds and cultures", she said.
I understood that here they appreciate diversity and make efforts to integrate all people from different nationalities, different backgrounds and cultures.
Mónica Cabarcas, the Project Manager and event organizer, explained that IHG drew inspiration from international talents of different ages, genders and origins to invite speakers who could offer insights on diversity and inclusion (D&I) in the workspace. "We decided to invite inspirational speakers that include D&I at the workplace to help us with recommendations to be more inclusive", she said.
The panel discussion at IHG brought together exceptional female leaders from various industries, includingm Pooja C Sousthanamath from Women in Tech, Sandra Schönfeld-Parks from Lindex and Jasmin Aronsson El Kachani and Mamtha Pullat from Volvo Cars. The speakers shared insightful recommendations based on their experiences and emphasized the significance of promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
Attendees like Aswin Kumar, an entrepreneur and consultant at Volvo Group, found the event helpful for networking and learning about different perspectives on D&I and said: "It was good for networking and to know people that specifically work on diversity and inclusion in different perspectives."
It was good for networking and to know people that specifically work on diversity and inclusion in different perspectives.
Hauwa Abubakar, New Yorker and a talented industry professional in Human Resources who recently moved to Gothenburg appreciated how IHG provided a community for professionals to discuss and learn about D&I. "They can meet and talk with real internationals not only about the unique experiences but also about the recommendations they have", said Hauwa.
Inspirational highlights from the event
"I think they were very strong and very passionate to convert their personal experiences, good or bad, to improve their workspace for everybody; diverse nationalities, genders and backgrounds.There is a place for everyone", shared Mohammad Khateeb, an international talent from Syria with 21 years of experience in marketing and e-commerce, after the event.
During the panel, Mamtha Pullat shared her insights on how to break down barrier for people restarting their lives in a new country and discussed the challenges of scaling inclusion and belonging in talent acquisition for the automotive industry.
"I work with the topics of diversity and inclusion or culture inclusion because, as naive as it sounds, having an impact on society is a very important aspect for me. And working with companies that take that seriously has been important to me", she said.
The society we live in today is not perfect, but we don't want to be perfect, we just want to be fair and equal.
The relevance of companies working on inclusion and improving the visibility and recognition of women was one of the contributions of Pooja Sousthanamath during the panel. The co-founder of Women in Tech Gothenburg highlighted the need to change the gender bias in the culture of science and technology, including mindful practices.
"The society we live in today is not perfect, but we don't want to be perfect, we just want to be fair and equal", she said.
Sandra Schönfeld-Parks from Lindex consider it necessary to develop a clear D&I policy fo companies and develop different methods and tools to understand the knowledge of everyone in the organization. Agreeing with the importance of equality, Jasmin Aronsson El Kachani, HR Specialist in culture, inclusion and belonging at Volvo Cars says that global companies need "global thoughts and ideas". She also explained Volvo Car's effort to promote inclusive hiring practices, a culture of belonging, freedom, an inclusive language and partnerships with key stakeholders such as Mitt Liv, Jobbsprånget, Tekniksprånget and Unicus.
Overall, the event emphasized the importance of recognizing differencies while also understanding similarities in order to collaborate on projects together. IHG can be considered an example of a successful initiative that brings together people from different mindsets with similar objectives and makes the settling-in transition as smooth and enjoyablem as possible.
International House Gothenburg is a non-profit organization, founded in 2021 and is a collaboration between the City of Gothenburg, Business Region Göteborg, Region Västra Götaland, Labour Market and the Adult Education Committee City of Gothenburg and Move to Gothenburg.