At the core of Agentum you’ll find our agents – the 1500 people who hold our entire business model up and running. They are the people who give us insight into their networks and share their knowledge of great people, so that we can reach out with open positions to the right ones.
Therefore we want to introduce Clara, who, with a sense of justice and a mind for business, has reached the position as Global Lead Diversity & Inclusion at Telia Company. Here’s a taste of what she has to say about inclusion, innovation, age-discrimination and door-opening.
Clara, tell us about your position, the company you work at and your journey getting there.
I am globally responsible for diversity and inclusion at Telia company; a very fitting company with regard to this question, for the world is communication, right? And everybodycommunicates in their own way! The world is diverse, Telia is part of the world and therefore we have to recruit and retain talent from all kinds of backgrounds in order to succeed and be at the forefront. When the telephone became commonplace in homes and offices after the First World War, it was the women who obtained the hundreds of thousands of jobs as switchboard operators in the world. Now, IT and telecommunication float together through digitization, robotization and automation and suddenly, there are new groups making their entry into the labor market. Since the geriatric EU has few young people (who also reject technical training programs), developers and engineers from other parts of the world instead make their entry. These come from populous regions with lots of young talented people.
A group I think will mean a lot for innovation in the industry in the future is people with neuropsychiatric function variations that are rejected today, already in school, as they do not fit within the “framework”. There is much underestimated talent here; Greta Thunberg, to name one example. Then we have all our elderly people who, with an increased retirement age, we have to stop age-discriminating. You’re not undevelopable after 55 years? Research shows that discrimination in some cases begins already after turning 40 – this is hardly anything we can afford in our geriatric EU.
So, how did I nail the best role in the world for me? I’m a youth politician who then got stuck to the Russian language, I studied economics and went into business. I worked in the former Soviet for 15 years as an entrepreneur and HR director, finally to land as an “internal politician” in a global company. The circle closes itself. Lovely!
Tell us about what motivates you and your goals for the future.
The motivation to work for equal rights for underrepresented groups comes from a sense of justice that I’ve had since childhood.Personal experiences from exclusion, discrimination and bullying are present as an extra fuel. My goal is for Telia to take the obvious choice in telecoms for women – based on the post-war history mentioned above – but of course as an inclusive workplace for everyone. My personal goal is to open as many doors as I can. Not only by building open-minded recruitment processes at a large company, but also by functioning as a door-opener in my spare time as well. As I speak fluent Russian, I regularly meet immigrants/newly arrived from countries in the former Soviet Union and consult them on how to get employment, give them tips on education and connect them with people in my network. Especially women from the East are so wonderfully driven and well educated and can give Sweden so much power.
What is your latest important learning?
I think the issue of built-in bias in AI is interesting and scary. Virginia Dignum, Professor of Social and Ethical AI at Umeå University, is the real nestor here to follow. For those of you who want to get involved in integration issues and have some time on your hands – share your network and knowledge about how the labor market in Sweden works through www.yrkesdörren.se! A simple digital tool for meeting new Swedish talent who want to contribute to our society, but do not have the contacts to come in and show what they have. This summer I will read Melinda Gates’ Women Change the World and Youval Noah Hararis’ 21 Questions for the 21st century. That is, if I have time, with two little playful children who just want to swim!