Lighting designer and physicist Daniel Strömberg joined ÅF in 2007. Together with colleagues in Denmark and Norway, he initiated the Lighting business area. Currently, he manages the Stockholm office of ÅF Lighting - a particularly diverse team, with people of various nationalities and competence profiles. We had a chat with him to find out more about his approach to the issues of equality and diversity.
Daniel, please describe how you work with equal opportunities?
I believe in recruiting the best people for the job, regardless of their background, gender, age, etc. Our Stockholm team consists of some 30 people, and features many different competencies, eleven different nationalities and almost as many women as men.
We strive to create an open and inclusive team culture in which differences in background and skill are embraced. As I like to say, we’re all equally different. And I’m pleased to say that this seems to work: we have low turnover rates and we attract highly competent people.
In what way does diversity benefit the business?
To put it simply, a diverse workforce makes for successful projects. We live in a globalised world and the clients we work with are not all the same. To be able to understand and work well with all of them, it is vital that our own workforce reflects that diversity, and that we are familiar with various markets, languages and cultural differences.
With a broad spectrum of backgrounds, competencies and personalities to choose from, you have a better chance of creating well-functioning teams, where the members’ skills and profiles complement each other. Equality and diversity is useful for attracting talent, improving morale and making highly competent teams even more successful. When people of different cultures and backgrounds are brought together, this often results in a greater exchange of knowledge and raised levels of innovation.
How do you cope with language issues?
The fact that our staff speak many languages is often an asset rather than a problem. When working with international clients, it can be a great advantage. We have presented concepts in Russian, for example. It is useful in a PR context, as well. For instance, we have recently proof read and fact checked articles in Spanish and Portuguese, and when participating in a lighting competition in Rome, we were able to submit our entry in Italian.
Of course, Swedish is required in many projects, and our non-Swedish speakers are encouraged to take language classes, partly on company time. Also, when you are learning a language it is important to have opportunities to practise, so we try to use Swedish as well as English in our internal meetings, where appropriate.