What is Battle of the numbers?

Battle of the numbers is a unique project in which the CEOs for 10 of Sweden’s largest companies are joining forces in order to create, within their own companies, the kind of business environment that actually results in getting more women in operative management positions.

The participating companies and ceo:s are listed below:

Ericsson – Hans Vestberg

H&M – Karl-­‐Johan Persson

Ikea – Mikael Ohlsson

SAAB AB – Håkan Buskhe

Sandvik – Olof Faxander

Scania – Martin Lundstedt

SEB – Annika Falkengren

SPP – Sarah McPhee

SSAB – Martin Lindqvist

Volvo – Olof Persson

Why is this important?

It’s important because greater diversity is about more than fairness – it’s also about competitiveness and profitability. One of the greatest challenges for today’s business leaders is figuring out how to attract, recruit and retain employees with the right competence. This is why it is extremely important to ensure that we’re tapping into the potential of a very broad and diverse pool of talent.

With more balanced gender proportions, companies gain a broader perspective, they understand their customers better, and they increase their profitability.

What are you basing this knowledge on?

Current research and the experiences of the project’s founders, as well as the participating companies.

Who is behind the project?

Eva Swartz Grimaldi, CEO Bianchi café and cycles: Eva Swartz Grimaldi is one of Sweden’s most prominent women business leaders. She has been a program director for TV4 and the CEO of Natur & Kultur, a Swedish cultural foundation and publishing house. Eva serves on the boards of several different organizations, including Konserthuset, SVT and Nobel Media.

Cissi Elwin Frenkel, CEO and Editor-­‐in-­‐chief of the leadership magazine Chef: Cissi Elwin Frenkel is a journalist and has worked as a producer and program host at SVT, as Editor-­‐in-­‐chief for Ica-­‐Kuriren, and as CEO of the Swedish Film institute. The magazine Chef is the Nordic region’s largest magazine for leadership, reaching over 155,000 key decision-­‐makers every month.

Chef also arranges leadership training programs as well as a number of widely recognized events including CEO Day, and Leaders Gala where the CEO of the Year award is given.

Sofia Falk, founder of Wiminvest: Wiminvest is market leading in the Nordic region when it comes to getting more women into operative positions. Wiminvest cooperates with a number of global, publicly listed companies and has contributed to the professional development of over 3000 women, also involving their direct managers and top-­‐tier management groups from businesses in over 20 countries.

Sofia is a recognized opinion leader and international expert and has served as a gender equality advisor to Sweden’s government and largest businesses.

How did you get this idea?

For quite some time, Eva Swartz Grimaldi and Cissi Elwin Frenkel have thought about what they could do to improve gender equality in business. Sofia Falk became involved when she arranged and moderated a panel discussion for Nordic Future Forum, where 150 top women managers from Sweden were able to meet the heads of government from Nordic and Baltic countries, as well as England’s Prime Minister David Cameron.

Eva, Cissi and Sofia met and realized that they shared the same view of equality – a practical, action-­‐oriented view. They developed a project that would be effective and make a significant impact, and then it was only natural that they involved Sweden’s largest companies and their CEOs.

McKinsey’s extensive survey ”Women Matter”, which examined 235 of Europe’s largest companies, showed that they had a few things in common:

• The CEOs and top-­‐tier management groups had clearly defined and prioritized the issue

• They measured and followed up the roles of women in the company • They also assumed responsibility for issues concerning attitudes and corporate culture.

”Battle of the Numbers” includes all these elements.

Why do the companies want to participate?

All participating companies already have gender equality pretty high up on the agenda. Some companies have come further than others, but they all share impatience and a desire to get actual results. Aren’t they doing anything already? Yes, all the participating companies do work systematically with diversity issues on a broad, general scale, taking into consideration gender, ethnic background, nationality, competence, professional background, physical disabilities, age, etc.

“Battle of the Numbers” is one part of these broader diversity efforts. The companies hope to learn from each other so they can attain more rapid results.

How will you actually do this? Do you have a certain method?

Each company selects ten soon-to-be and existing women managers from within their organizations. These women function as experts and form a knowledge base. Within the framework of a series of workshops, they scrutinize their own organizations to identify the obstacles and opportunities for women to advance.

Later they share their conclusions with each other and their management boards. In addition, each company’s HR­‐managers will meet to exchange ideas during the course of the project.

The project will end with a closing event on November 21, 2013, where conclusions, experiences and best practices will be presented.

Are you for or against introducing quotas?

“Battle of the numbers” does not have an opinion one way or the other with regard to quotas. Quotas are one of many ways to reach gender equality goals in businesses. The quota issue has been a focus of the debate for some time, but the conversation has shifted towards addressing methods rather than results.

We want to try a different approach by using practical analysis of the actual situation, experience, knowledge exchange, and best practices. There is also an important symbolic value of having the CEOs of these large companies publicly make gender equality a priority. And we know that when the management group has something on its agenda and follows up, that’s when we can see results.

What do you hope to achieve?

We hope that during the course of the year, we can remove a lot of obstacles for the advancement for women in the participating companies. We hope that the best and proven ideas are implemented and spread to other companies in Sweden and also internationally. We are confident that we can become a model for showing businesses how to get more women leaders, and delivering results.

But isn’t the issue of representation on the board the most important? Board representation is an issue for the owners and the nomination committees. We have chosen to concentrate “Battle of the Numbers” on what can be accomplished by the CEO; to increase the number of women leaders within the organization and in the top management groups. When this happens you automatically broaden the recruitment base for the boards.