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Nordic companies favour a deeper interpretation of diversity

November 15th 2017, Stockholm, Sweden - Diversity holds a much more profound meaning for Nordic companies than their foreign counterparts.

This is a finding from the Alumni / Harvey Nash Board Report 2017/18 which has for the pasttwo years collaborated with London Business School's Leadership Institute to investigate how boards are responding to the changing and challenging world of business and corporate affairs.

The research represents the views of more than 826 non-executive directors from the UK, Nordic countries and the Asia-Pacific region, discovering that Nordic respondents would like to see more functional expertise (72 %), international experience (64%) and cultural diversity (31%). Nordic boards are more likely to use a sound business case (40%) for extending diversity, but an equal number use no justification at all, most likely since diversity is considered simply to be 'business as usual'.

Nordic countries were among the first in Europe to force increased diversity by introducing laws about employee representation in boards. Today, this commitment has produced impressive results: the broadest spread of ages of any of the regional groups surveyed; the under 45s were the best represented of all the geographies, with a 10 per cent showing, while there are also one in ten respondents aged 66 or over. Almost half (49%) are women.

In a characteristically outward facing approach to business, Nordic respondents were the most likely to seek out sector experience and international skills in their board membership.

Diversity of thought was also of key importance. A Nordic executive commented on this interpretation of diversity: "In Sweden we have the 'grandfather principle'; all direct reports to the CEO are interviewed by someone from the board of directors. This enables us to promote diversity of thought in the executive team and prevents the hiring of people in their manager's own likeness."

Of the survey's Nordic respondents, just under half (47%) are non-executive directors, one in ten (11%) act solely as chairs, and more than a third (36%) hold both roles. Almost half (46%) hold a full-time position in addition to their board roles.

Due to their smaller markets the Nordic countries often experience a more exhaustive talent pool of non-executive candidates. As a result, networking is alive and well in the Nordics with more than two-thirds (67%) of their respondents known to the board at the time of their appointment. Of these, less than half went on to be formally assessed as part of the process and less than one in ten (9%) felt that the process was very rigorous.

As to what constitutes 'good business', Nordic companies echo the other geographies in placing transparency of reporting and anti-bribery at the top. In a departure from all other geographies Nordic board representative also cited improving human rights (92%) and environmental care (92%) as key priorities.

The European Chamber recently presented its annual report, 'Best European Countries for Business 2017'. This report ranks the European countries based on their business environment considering both short- and long-term elements. The Nordic countries were ranked in the top four.

About Alumni
Alumni is a leading consultancy within leadership services in the Nordic region. For more than 25 years we have developed tools and services in order to strengthen the organisations and teams of our clients. Since 2007, we are part of the Harvey Nash Group which enables us to service our clients seamlessly across borders.

Through a service offering ranging from Executive Search and Leadership Consulting to high-level Board Advisory Services, we support our clients business success. Our network consists of high performing individuals in different phases of their career.

We have offices in Copenhagen, Gothenburg, Helsinki, Malmo, Oslo, and Stockholm. Internationally we operate through our owner Harvey Nash Group, with more than 40 offices in Europe, US and Asia. This enables us to act without national barriers for clients and candidates, utilising specialists in every local market.

Within the Alumni Group in the Nordics, you can also find Harvey Nash (search for middle management and specialists) and Impact Executives (high-level interim solutions targeted at Alumni's clients).

About Alumni / Harvey Nash's Board Practice
Alumni / Harvey Nash's Board Practice helps some the world's most forward-thinking companies attract, assess and develop their board. The global team members are experts at building rich, diverse teams and look beyond the norm to find the exceptional. The Practice provides two key service offerings: evaluation - reviewing the effectiveness of existing boards; and recruitment - finding exceptional talent to add strength to the boardroom team.
The Board Practice is part of Harvey Nash Group a $1bn global professional recruitment company with over 4,000 professionals in more than 40 offices across the USA, Europe and Asia.

Find out more about the Board Report: Here
Or contact Alumni's Catharina Mannerfelt, partner and responsible for Board Services in the Nordics.

Media contacts:
Satu Ahlman / Alumni
Head of Marketing & Communications

Posted on November 15, 2017 10:15 AM |