Swedish firm defends ‘ladies only’ job ad

A trendy start-up in southern Sweden has defended a job ad where they asked for female candidates only, arguing that it wasn't policy but "a philosophy".

Swedish firm defends 'ladies only' job ad
Stock image of a woman at a computer. File: Victor1558/Flickr

Malmö start-up, which creates tools for sales organizations, recently advertised two positions within their company. The firm has been on the lookout for a blogger/marketing position and an outbound sales junior role, and stated in the job listings that they had a preference for female candidates. 

"The position is in Malmö (Sweden) and you are fluent in English and are proficient with the technical tools. Preferably you are a woman. Yes, we are biased to hiring women for all positions," stated the advert.

At present, employs one woman in its 10-strong workforce. Co-founder and CEO Hampus Jakobsson told The Local that the lack of females in the office had been the motivation for the biased job posting.

"The idea behind the advert was a collective one. I wouldn't say that it is a policy but a philosophy as we want to create a non-homogeneous work environment," said Jakobsson.

"Men tend to be more T-shaped and less willing to give things a try, whereas women are the opposite," he added. "In general I'd say that women are more tenacious and function better in teams." 

The firm has been in operation for the past 18 months and has already attracted $1.2 million (7.7 million kronor) in investment, Jakobsson said. It currently has offices in Malmö and in California.

The co-founder said technical firms such as his tend to be male dominated and he wanted to address the imbalance.

"For tech firms there is a massive male bias of about 90 percent. The 10 percent of women who do work in this industry tend to be in the administrative side and not in research and development. That needs to change," he said.

Jakobsson added that he hadn't encountered any hostility from men to the job advert, but admitted he wasn't sure if it was entirely legal.

"So far all our applicants have been women," he said.

He rubbished suggestions that the male-dominated company was simply keen to employ some 'eye candy' for the office.

"Not at all! That's why we despise the calendars that mechanics have on the wall," he quipped.

A spokesperson for the Equality Ombudsman (Diskrimineringsombudsmannen – DO), the state's equality watchdog, told The Local that would-be employers were not breaking the law if they stated a bias for a particular gender.

"When an employer wants to hire a specific person for a job they need to state that preference in the advert. In this instance it could be that the company is mainly made up of men and they want it to be more gender balanced," a spokesman said. 

"However, an employer cannot discriminate on grounds on ethnicity or race as that would illegal."

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Reader question: When am I eligible for a Swedish pension?

A reader got in touch to ask how long he had to work in Sweden before he was eligible for a pension. Here are Sweden's pension rules, and how you can get your pension when the time comes.

Reader question: When am I eligible for a Swedish pension?

The Swedish pension is part of the country’s social insurance system, and it can seem like a confusing beast at times. The good news is that if you’re living and working here, you’ll almost certainly be earning towards a pension, and you’ll be able to get that money even if you move elsewhere before retirement.

You will start earning your Swedish general pension, or allmän pension, once you’ve earned over 20,431 kronor in a single year, and – for almost all kinds of pension in Sweden – there is no time limit on how long you must have lived in Sweden before you are eligible.

The exception is the minimum guarantee pension, or garantipension, which you can receive whether you’ve worked or not. To be eligible at all for this, you need to have lived in Sweden for a period of at least three years before you are 65 years old. 

“There’s a limit, but it’s a money limit,” Johan Andersson, press secretary at the Swedish Pension Agency told The Local about the general pension. “When you reach the point that you start paying tax, you start paying into your pension.”

“But you have to apply for your pension, make sure you get in touch with us when you want to start receiving it,” he said.

Here’s our in-depth guide on how you can maximise your Swedish pension, even if you’re only planning on staying in Sweden short-term.

Those who spend only a few years working in Sweden will earn a much smaller pension than people who work here for their whole lives, but they are still entitled to something – people who have worked in Sweden will keep their income pension, premium pension, supplementary pension and occupational pension that they have earned in Sweden, even if they move to another country. The pension is paid no matter where in the world you live, but must be applied for – it is not automatically paid out at retirement age.

If you retire in the EU/EEA, or another country with which Sweden has a pension agreement, you just need to apply to the pension authority in your country of residence in order to start drawing your Swedish pension. If you live in a different country, you should contact the Swedish Pensions Agency for advice on accessing your pension, which is done by filling out a form (look for the form called Ansök om allmän pension – om du är bosatt utanför Sverige).

The agency recommends beginning the application process at least three months before you plan to take the pension, and ideally six months beforehand if you live abroad. It’s possible to have the pension paid into either a Swedish bank account or an account outside Sweden.

A guarantee pension – for those who live on a low income or no income while in Sweden – can be paid to those living in Sweden, an EU/EEA country, Switzerland or, in some cases, Canada. This is the only Swedish pension which is affected by how long you’ve lived in Sweden – you can only receive it if you’ve lived in the country for at least three years before the age of 65.

“The guarantee pension is residence based,” Andersson said. “But it’s lower if you haven’t lived in Sweden for at least 40 years. You are eligible for it after living in Sweden for only three years, but it won’t be that much.”