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Spot the non - Swede in this line up

Top management and board member of H&M
Chairman Stefan Persson
CEO Karl-Johan Persson
Financial Jyrki Tervonen
Finance Anders Jonasson
Sales Stefan Larsson
Purchase Madeleine Persson
Design Ann-Sofie Johansson
Production Karl Gunnar Fagerlin
Sustainability Helena Helmersson
Expansion Frederick Olsson
Business Bjorn Magnusson
New Business Roy Wohlfahrt
Marketing / Brand Anna Tillberg Pantzar
Information Kristina Stenvinkel
Press Camilla Emilsson Falk
Investor Relations Nils Vinge
Online Dan Nordstrom
Human Resources Sanna Lindberg
IT Kjell-Olof Nilsson
Logistics Jonas Guldstrand
Security Cenneth Cederholm

H&M a big Swedish global fashion giant managed only by the Swedes as it leads Swedish companies that discriminate workers in terms to racial and cultural integration.

Friday, 13 April 2012
Imagine that other peoples of other countries with different colours and strips did not wear H&M’s cloths, shoes and the like, could the company be as great as it is today and could it have grown soo big in other countries as it has done today.

We’ll, it is not us asking the question – it is the Swedish media which is asking such questions as to why do Swedish companies racially discriminate those they employ even though they rely on the global community to buy their products.

The weekly business magazine, Veckans Affair, reports that Stockholm exchange’s largest company, H & M stands in the bottom of among Swedish listed companies when it comes to diversity of its board management, work places and its management board.

The fashion chain with the aim of world domination has succeeded in recruiting a single non-Swedish - a Finnish financial officer, apparently without knowing. In this case the company is accused of hypocrites, institutionally racist and discriminatory in relation to race and nationality. 

It is apparent from an examination by the magazine’s big corporations nationality mix on their management board and other management areas, that is, the mixture of Swedish and foreign citizens that as Sweden cries that diversity of non - Swedes and Swedes in the work places in the way forward for the country, H&M gives a deaf ear to such cries.

Although a text book perception in business is that knowledge of other markets, customer needs and staff's cultural background should be paramount in all strategic decisions of the major exporters, many of the major Swedish listed companies with wide geographical spread and dominant global operations have a lousy access to genuine international experience and expertise and foreign culture in their top management.

H & M ends up rock bottom in the nationality mix index that the magazine used. The company is places on zero in board mix and 0.11 in the management mix thanks to the Finn, Jyrki Tervonen, who succeeded Leif Persson as chief financial officer in 2008.

"Diversity in all its forms is needed on the boards. For companies with international operations, it is important to have members with experience and knowledge of business in other countries. It can be both in terms of nationality other than Swedish that worked in other countries, "said Annika Andersson of  AP Fund and participates in many nominating committees.

But the experience in H&MS’ international services of Board members Mia Brunell, Anders Dahlvig, Lottie Knutson, Sussi Quartz, Bo Lundquist, Stefan Persson, Melker Schorling and Christian Sievert are not so extensive to address the shortage of foreign members.

Many of them have a long history as members of H & M, but in 2010, two new additions, who also brought with them some overseas experience came in. Anders Dahlvig, who worked for Ikea on a variety of markets in Europe before he took over as CEO in 1999 and Christian Sievert, president of Gabriel Urwitz, part of private equity firm Segulah, who in the 1990s worked in San Francisco as a consultant for Bain & Company.

Mia Brunell, president of Kinnevik, has clearly not brought with her the culture of nationality diversity that characterizes the Kinnevik Group boards and management teams.

The parent company Kinnevik has a nationality mix of 0.52 of the board and management mix of 0.41. This group is also a company that is listed on the Stockholm Stock Exchange that has the most nationalities mixed on its board, namely the Luxembourg-based Millicom. Here the only Swedish person on the board Mia Brunell herself.

H & M is otherwise in good company of seemingly other Swedish companies that have cemented their ‘Swedish only’ name in management and board membership. The Swedish companies which Swedes dominate the Board and management, among other things, include companies of the ‘Melker Schörlingsfären’ group (Securitas, Assa Abloy and Hexagon), and Sandvik, which until this year had only Swedes in the group management.

Defence group Saab has no foreigners in both the board as a director, even though 60 percent of sales are for export and the biggest growth is in India, Thailand and USA.

Sweden could be rejoicing now that the Swedes are the best to run their businesses - by the Swedes only. Times are changing and a smaller country like Sweden will soon start having difficulties selling their products if its customer start turning to buy from those they know and trust.

Did Saab know why the Indian refused to buy its Gripen jet fight and instead to buy from the French or do they know why many of their companies have been loosing international contracts? Could it have been possible that if there was a good non - Swede on the board that could connect with the Indians better that would have given them the edge in the market?

Could the problem with diversity in Sweden be the factor why Sony decided to cut away from Ericsson?
Could this be the reason why Sweden has retuned to selling more military hardware even to dictatorships knowing that they will use it against their people and that many countries don’t produce arms but real goods?
H&M is not a god in the fashion sector. There are others in places that will compete well with H&M in the future as news will start circulating that the company has a glass ceiling when it comes to diversity.
By Team

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