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Non-European execs scarce in Sweden: study

TT/Vivian Tse · 3 Dec 2010, 15:45

Published: 03 Dec 2010 15:09 GMT+01:00
Updated: 03 Dec 2010 15:45 GMT+01:00

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Swedish business daily Dagens Industri (DI) reviewed a list of 755 registered "insiders" from 34 publicly traded companies in Sweden.

According to the newspaper’s review, only three people with non-European backgrounds could be found among the companies’ operational management teams.

Sweden's minister for integration Erik Ullenhag called the results a "total market failure" and wants to teach the Swedish business community "a lesson."

The dearth of executives with non-European backgrounds in management at Sweden's publicly traded companies is tied to a failure in Sweden's "non-functioning" integration policy over the past decades, according to an economist at the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise (Svenskt Näringsliv).

"It has been a very non-functioning integration policy, about getting them apartments, not jobs. The education system has also not worked in getting them the Swedish skills demanded on the labour market, which results in the low level of executives among non-European-born workers," economist Li Jansson of the organisation told The Local on Friday.

Jansson collaborated on a large report this summer that found that non-European citizens have trouble establishing themselves in the market.

The organisation noticed that employment rates are very low. Only 50 percent of non-EU-born residents in Sweden are employed, including those in programmes subsidised by government, compared with 80 percent of those born in Sweden.

"The main reason why it is very hard is if you are not at all in the labour market, there are fewer people who can get to a senior position," Jansson explained.

She added that Swedish demographics have changed dramatically in the last two decades. While 7 percent of the Swedish population was born outside of the EU in 1997, the number jumped to 11 percent in 2008.

"It generally takes a while to get into labour market, especially if your level of education is lower than the average Swede's and it takes seven years on average to get into labour market in Sweden," said Jansson

In addition, there were wide differences in employment rates across Swedish municipalities among non-EU-born workers, ranging from 17 percent to 76 percent, with Trosa southwest of Stockholm coming out on top.

"Traditional policies don't matter, but there is a large effect statistically. It is much better in those municipalities with a very good company company. They have a positive effect on employment," said Jansson.

She noted that these companies have more foreign-born workers in leading positions and jobs matching their skills and education levels, especially those with college-level qualifications.

Municipalities with more flexible labour markets also had more competition for jobs and were more favourable to foreign experience.

Story continues below…

Big cities were less likely to have high rates of employment for those born outside of the EU. Only four in 10 non-EU-born Malmö residents are employed, for example, said Jansson.

Smaller municipalities she cited with high employment rates among non-EU-born residents included Bollebygd outside Gothenburg and Gnösjö in Småland, added Jansson.

She also noted that certain sectors attract more of these workers. For example, 26 percent of non-EU-born women in Stockholm work in health care.

"It starts with getting a job," said Jansson.

TT/Vivian Tse (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

10:10 December 3, 2010 by bolababu
A lesson? ..interesting, i'll be watching this space.
10:13 December 3, 2010 by salalah
SD: Who the ****** wants a "Blatte" to tell us what to do :)
11:26 December 3, 2010 by Rishonim
I have been saying this all the time. Swedish corporation don't offer the same opportunities to well qualified non Swedes. I am surprised the article states non Europeans. I know a great deal of Swedish born people with an above education and foreign background (Middle east, Africa, Latin America) and they cannot get a proper JOB. In the long run the BIG loser will be Sweden cause it is forcing these brains lo leave to places where they will be respected for their knowledge and contributions.
11:51 December 3, 2010 by Dr. Dillner
Maybe non-Europeans are missing the skills necessary for those jobs?
12:08 December 3, 2010 by svenskamerikansk
It's not unreasonable to expect to see Swedes running Swedish companies.

Why on earth should anyone expect otherwise? A bigger story might be one concerning explaining the nihilists who think this is a problem.
12:09 December 3, 2010 by Rishonim
Dr. Dillner You don't believe that right? I have this friend with an MBA degree from Imperial College who is unable to get a descent job because his name is Middle Eastern sounding. The lad was born in Sweden......
14:13 December 3, 2010 by unseen
Us AF, US SF, Israeli Intelligence (M),

trained by, then helped in:

guide, resource, recruiting, deployment, networking. locals training


a. Period: ---------

b. Responsibilities as a Security Manager Assistant, Recruiting and Train PSD members, conduct day-to-day management of the PSD teams, Planning, Deployment, create a monthly brief/report on the security situation in -----including any recommendations for improvements.


Rubicon International (Britain)

a. Period: August ------------

b. Responsibilities as Operations room Manager Assistant and organizes the PSD teams. Supervising the training courses.


a. Period: -----------

b. Responsibilities as an Internet Café Manager, Phone Center Manager, supplying (computers, constructions).


a. Period: -----------

b. Responsibilities as an Interpreter, Supporting dozens of urban patrols and vehicle checkpoints, Aided in conducting local elections and the training of -----Police and Security Guard Classes, interpreter for the U.S. Marines Corps Civil Affairs Group, Interpreter for the U.S. Army Government Supporting Team.


a. Period: -----------

b. Responsibilities as Owner and Manager of the Company.


1. Basic Military Training

2. Medical Training Level 1,2 &3

3. VIP Protection Course (second in command after Trevor Rice, princess D's SM, in two of mentioned employments)

4. Self-defense and unarmed combat

5. computer literate in windows and latest Office packages

6. Bachelor degree in English literature

7. Bachelor degree in Intelligence analysis management

8. Bachelor degree in international trade management

I have the ability to work under whatsoever environment....

in Sweden, they put me back at high-school level, which is OK for me. but saying that i might have to study 400 points although my university degrees were equivalent to the Swedish as proved by what i am not sure what is called, the office where they evaluate high academic degrees, is quite weird for me!!!
14:23 December 3, 2010 by Syftfel
Lesson??? Isn't it the potential foreign executive that needs to be taught a lesson? Swedes have already been taught, for the most part, local colloquialisms, habits and customs. Ullenhag needs to explain himself!
14:45 December 3, 2010 by adigunbabatunde@yahoo.com
how would there be...except you consider executive cleaners, chef (@ mc donalds)
15:07 December 3, 2010 by dizzy09
first of all the non Europeans must be able to find a job here in Sweden as most companies are not even interested in employing them even if they have studied in Sweden...and if they do get employed there is a glass ceiling over their heads preventing them from reaching top level positions.the truth is a non European will be wasting his/her life if he/she wants to reach the pinnacle of his/her career in Sweden.
15:39 December 3, 2010 by adigunbabatunde@yahoo.com
the problem here is more basic than reaching management position. it is firstly, getting a decent job. That is the major problem!!
16:29 December 3, 2010 by ISayWhatPeopleThink
"The education system has also not worked in getting them the Swedish skills demanded on the labour market, which results in the low level of executives among non-European-born workers"

It isn't education or lack of Swedish. There are PLENTY of foreign-born non-EU professionals that have good degrees, outstanding experience in their field, and can speak and write Swedish at a fluent level. The problem isn't lacking on that side. The fact remains that no matter how competent an immigrant is, they are not allowed to move up in ranks. Many of them are making pizza or cleaning toilets, no matter what they could bring to the table, and worst of all is that the consensus is they should be THANKFUL for being given those menial jobs.

Immigrants are not expected to thrive in the current work climate here. They will always be passed over or kept at a low level, not because they are incompetent; but because Swedish society as a whole does not want to view them as equals - let alone in a position of authority over ethnic Swedes.
17:04 December 3, 2010 by Danish Omer Zuberi
Same was in Texas untill 25 years, I dont know if the attitude has changed, but the Old Boys, top CEOs and corporate magnets would decide on promotions above a certain level in the corporate level, and the top most positions were reserved for .....ummmm caucasian males. Maybe same is the case with Sweden. Outside the government and the state that must follow secular and non discreminatory policies, people in their private decisions would like to see their cultures preserved. As a south asian, I know the value of cultural values.
22:43 December 3, 2010 by voidplay
It is not about Swedish companies not employing non-europeans. The world that we live in today is a lot unbalanced, where a large part of the world is dependent on a small section (the developed world) which predominantly happens to be western Europe and N. America which are tightly woven economically.

MNCs are spread globally with offices around the world, investors around the world they do not have a single ethnic or national identity. As far as Sweden goes companies like Ericsson, Volvo, Saab make a bulk of their profits outside Sweden, and would make more and more so in the future with several large growing economies.

Now today they can be protective and 'Swedish' but then in the long run they tend to stand out and might have 'trouble' in the end markets when the end markets have better alternatives.
02:49 December 4, 2010 by MarkinBoston
I guess this means all those unhappy non-Swedes will be leaving Sweden for greener pastures now, right? No doubt they'd be much happier back where they came from.
03:27 December 4, 2010 by repat_xpat
Duh??? Of course Swedes are kingdom builders who shun outsiders. Everyone knows that. This is not news. BTW: This is why the mergers with SAAB/Volvo failed and GM/Ford dumped them. I wonder if the Chinese and Russian Mafia will be so kind.

@MarkinBoston, I am much happier back where I came from. Glad SAAB is gone.
10:07 December 4, 2010 by unseen

back where we come from or other countries (and there is a lot), where people are respected and treated just normal.

Scandinavian countries, you guys have serious problem communicating even with your fellows, dark like your days, as cold as your weather, goodhearted but complicated, good looking but boring, blame your bleakness on violence caused by immigrants which never exist, happy having SAAB and Volvo while China is getting there where all of you guys will be unemployed,

(stop getting angry while you reading and think "why?")

proud of piece that lasted many years which only because no one was/is/ will be interested, excited in other cultures but unsure.

my list seems longer than i thought. i might be wrong...but definitely thats how i feel
15:16 December 4, 2010 by Marc the Texan
I really don't see what the problem is. Foreign executives are better than Swedish ones in what way? Ah, is it because it's politically correct to arbitrarily prefer foreigners over native Swedes? If I owned a Swedish company, I would never hire an American to run it unless he'd lived in Sweden for years and spoke Swedish. I don't see how he's be qualified otherwise.
18:16 December 4, 2010 by mikewhite
Can we please have the headline in the correct format:

"Sweden is number 1 in survey of [paste] countries without non-European. Company directors"
21:47 December 4, 2010 by planet.sweden
"Sweden's minister for integration Erik Ullenhag called the results a "total market failure" and wants to teach the Swedish business community 'a lesson.' "

This is the mark of a government which is determined to repeat each and everyone of Britain's mistakes in the immigration arena over the last 20 years.

Rather than consulting the British establishment the Swedes might like to talk to the British people about this. The Brits are fleeing their own country at the rate of a quarter of a million every year. The reason, immigration, Islamification, Black crime, and an establishment which is institutionally prejudiced against native British people. Just like Erik Ullenhag apparently is against Swedes.

There are few things more dangerous in life than a fired up Liberal do-gooder with a a misguided mission. By the time Ullenhag's finished trashing Sweden who does he think is goinng to pick up the pieces?
11:45 December 5, 2010 by skatty

I just mention that, Brits have been emigrating from Britain for centuries and not in the last 20 years. Actually; by emigration and force the former British colonies, English language is an international language now! The same can be said for countries like France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, and Netherlands.
14:45 December 5, 2010 by Nilspet
In Japan many big companies are particularly looking for non-white, non-Asian to be CEOs.

The CEO of Nissan is a Lebanese for example.
18:49 December 6, 2010 by mkvgtired
"Big cities were less likely to have high rates of employment for those born outside of the EU."

Can anyone explain this? Big cities anywhere seem to be where cultures meet and work together. When I was in smaller towns and cities in China people would literally stop and take pictures of me (188 cm blond hair blue eyes). When I got to Shanghai there were so many different types of people the only interest people had in me was the want to sell me something. This feature seems to be pretty constant among large cities in the world (not just in China), think NYC, Chicago, Toronto, London, etc. Why is it so different in Sweden?

Marc the Texan, The article was based on quotes from the minister of integration. I think it is referring to people of Non-EU background that have been in Sweden for an extended period of time that are unemployed, and not advocating importing expats from the US/Canada.
02:58 December 9, 2010 by somethingbrite
Blimey, never realised there were quite so many racist folks active in The Local forum.
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