The benefits of being white is greatest in France, Sweden and UK according to a recent report conducted by the foundation AllBright. The report shows the lack of diversity among CEO’s in public Swedish companies, both in regards to gender and ethnicity. Most European countries are moving towards being more diverse in appointing their CEO’s, but the progress in Sweden is more unstable. A staggering 88 percent of the CEO’s are men. In fact, the average CEO for public companies in Sweden is a 53-year-old man with Swedish background.
While one fifth of the Swedish population today are born outside of Sweden, the same group only represent 8 percent of CEO’s in public companies. Only two of those CEO’s are born outside of Europe. And when looking at whether or not the CEO’s have a foreign background, only 11 percent of them do, even though the same group represent 26 percent of the Swedish population. In fact, Sweden is actually one of the countries where discrimination based on the color of your skin is most prominent.
By having women and minorities in important positions, companies show that they are forward-thinking and tend to attract a wider range of talents. Women and minorities among CEO’s also tend to lead to diversity in recruitment to leading positions within the company. In companies with a female CEO, an average of 41 percent of the management team are women, compared to 24 percent in companies with a male CEO.
When looking at the representation of minorities, in companies where the CEO has a foreign background, 42 percent of the board members also do. In contrast, when the CEO has a Swedish background, only 4 percent of the board members have a foreign background, clearly showing why diversity is much needed.
When it comes to recruiting for CEO positions, many times the jobs are not being listed, which prevents large groups of women and minorities that don’t have access to the right networks to even apply for the job. Instead, a lot of CEO’s are recruited through contacts. And while in general, the CEO’s of public companies are highly educated, having a higher education is not always a requirement if you’re a man. While all of the female CEO’s in the report have a higher education, the number for male CEO’s land on 98 percent. Studies show that while women more often have to prove their competence, either through merit or their work, men are in much higher regard hired on the basis of potential.