Diversity & inclusion – “Nice to have” or a business imperative?

Diversity inclusion
– “Nice to have” or a business imperative?

Recently Allbright presented their report on Diversity in Swedish business. Even if the topic of diversity has become increasingly important for many organizations, change is slow.

According to the World Economic Forum (2023) it would still take approximately 130 years to close the inequality gap at the current pace, despite an increased global focus on gender diversity at work.

Many organizations and leaders are under extreme pressure due to the past years of pandemic, a financial downturn, technical advancements in society and higher expectations on sustainability. Even so, increasing pressure by adding DEI perspectives is necessary to be future ready and successful long-term.

In 2025, 75 percent of the workforce will be made up by millennials. According to Deloitte, DEI is one of their top two questions when assessing an employer. So not only does DEI have a positive effect on innovation, financial performance, and collaboration, it will also be critical to attract the workforce of tomorrow.

A global large cap organization reached out to People Heart Business for support in this area. Why us? A small startup, with little experience in DEI itself? We don’t know. But DEI leads the organization to larger questions. To work with DEI successfully the organization needs to center it in the business strategy, look at the performance of the executive management and CEO as well as the culture and leadership in the organization. The work needs to be done with integrity and in a way that builds trust and allyship throughout the organization. The partner needs to be capable of both handling complex logical and emotional challenges. We won the competition against international giants. It is a big responsibility and thus we partnered up with Chisom Udeze and Diversify – a consultancy with vast experience in DEI, with clients such as UN, the Economist and Boston Consulting Group.

To succeed we will always rely on the competence and trust of our clients, network, and partners.

We take humble pride in our purpose to unite people in solving the unsolvable!

What are your best tips when it comes to successful DEI-work?

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Redefining Culture and navigating Change

Redefining Culture and navigating Change

One of our clients share, two years after our work ended, their view of the journey and what impact it has had since then.

In 2020 LMK Group faced a game changing event, merging three companies (Linas Matkasse, Ret Nemnt and Godtlevert Gruppen) in three different countries, effectively doubling the size of the company. This coincided with the Pandemic and lock down, giving them no chance to travel or meet physically. How to win synergies from three companies in this challenging situation?

According to McKinsey & Company, 70 percent of mergers fail and it’s mostly because organizations too often overlook or ignore organizational culture and human capital issues and pay scant attention to integrating these softer issues into the “hard” integration process.

It takes bold leadership, to in this situation embark on a journey and involve the entire organization in defining the success DNA of the new group. They were also brave in trusting Klara LjungqvistAlicia Smith and People Heart Business, a company that didn’t even have an e-mail address when we signed the contract.

Together with the entire organization we defined the purpose, strategy and culture of LMK Group, now Cheffelo. Doing it as a co-creation project between management, leaders and employees enabled strategic alignment, trust and allyship throughout the organization. Brita Helleberg and Felicia Grosin handed over the work to them two years ago with a successful launch event (filled with substance and engagement), a toolkit and trainings for all leaders to equip them to further build it into the organization and into their own leadership. It makes me proud and happy to see how Cheffelo have taken it onwards and upwards – to unleash the potential and leverage the synergies.

Walker Kinman and Martin Neerland, it was a pleasure to work with you and the group in such a trustful partnership. Headache, laughter and so much learning. And who would have known that you had so many talented actors and film directors? I am forever thankful that you trusted me and People Heart Business with this. It is this trust that has built People Heart Business. Today we have our own compass for our team and company.

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Lead the future

Lead the future

In a time where the world is facing challenging times, we can’t rely on governments to take responsibility for driving the shifts needed. Business leaders need to take more responsibility for turning threats into opportunities.

World Economic Forum states that data, tech, and people-centered skills are among the most needed future skills. Whilst data and tech are top priorities for most organizations, people skills are often confused for common sense and have, for most companies, not made it to a critical part of the business strategy.

Last week, People Heart Business hosted Lead the Future. An evening to unite CEOs, leaders, and rising stars at the forefront of connecting top performance and well-being as a foundation for solving the complex challenges ahead. We discussed the leadership needed in the fourth industrial revolution and got to share perspectives, reflect and fuel up to take an active role in shaping the future.

Some insights:
  • 72% of employees say the purpose is more important than profit, and 70% say that their sense of purpose is defined by their work. (McKinsey) Many business leaders believe that their organization’s purpose is central to business success, but 68% of business leaders state it’s not being used as a guidepost in management decisions. (PwC)
  • The desired leadership to handle the future is not necessarily reinforced today. Our participants noted that pressure both on contribution to society and short-term financial success has increased and that the latter is hindering the transition to the leadership needed in Industry 4.0.
  • Psychology can help CEOs understand their context and themselves more – supporting them to make the bold decisions needed for tomorrow in line with their own values and long-term value creation.
  • Purpose-driven organizations is not the opposite of having to make tough decisions. Even these decisions can be made people-centric.
  • Well-being and performance are not contradictory.

The business world needs research-based and data-driven ways to secure top-performing and healthy people and organizations ready to meet the fourth industrial revolution.

Looking forward to sharing more insights and reflections!

The temperature is rising - who do you become?

The temperature is rising - who do you become?

The pressure on our society has risen tremendously. The awakening about climate change, the pandemic, de-democratizing movements, the outburst of war, and the recession have reshaped our context to something no one has ever experienced.

A few years ago, I read and shared an article about how business leaders need to take more responsibility for the development of our society and that the opportunities and threats coming from digitalization, climate change, and globalization were faster than governments could keep up with. Now I think it’s evident to most of us.

Consequently, business leaders out there are under much more pressure. They are still supposed to please their stakeholders, but the stakeholders have become many. No longer can leaders care only about shareholder value – but are supposed to take responsibility for the development of society, the wellbeing of employees, business ethics and co-creation with partners, the increased demands from customers, the higher focus on their own work-life balance, and shareholder value.

The pressure is rising on CEOs, and the question is: who do you become? Over the past months, I have been genuinely inspired by how CEOs tackle the situation and, to be honest, also sad and terrified. There is no doubt that CEOs now need to show that they can deliver. They need to raise the bar. In many organizations, this means cost-cutting and raising the expectations of employees. If we put this together with the perspective that organizations in the fourth industrial revolution have become less hierarchical and that more people are searching for a clear purpose and being emotionally connected to their work, CEOs have an exciting equation to solve.

Of course, as a CEO, you need to show that you can deliver during these circumstances – that’s what your role is about. The question is: does the person you become under pressure get more or fewer followers? And will people become more or less loyal to you and the company? Not only this quarter but in the inevitable game.

Do you really get people to perform at their best? Because that’s what you need.

I recently spoke with a CEO who was gathering the top 150 managers of the organization to focus on well-being. This CEO knew that the well-being of their organization would be key to success in this critical situation now and in the future. I heard about another CEO letting a strong leader and key performer during the past years leave due to low performance in the last quarterly report. On top of this, the CEO didn’t even take the conversation with him directly, choosing instead to let HR handle it.

This puts light on the increased importance of people skills that the World Economic Forum stresses for future leaders. If you as a CEO have let this topic to HR, I hope you have attended a lot of the training HR have held. I believe leaders who have led in a… let’s call it “traditional way” will experience a different career in the coming year(s). It will show if you have only been hiding behind “people are the most important asset of this company” or if you have genuinely led by it.

Don’t get me wrong. I understand that CEOs will need to make difficult decisions going forward. Even in these situations, I have seen skilled CEOs increase loyalty. The strongest example was a CEO and her leaders who needed to inform 300 people that they would lose their jobs, not immediately but in five years. Would you want to be in their shoes? Maybe I told you that they managed to do this with increased people engagement, increased productivity, and successfully helping all employees who wanted to continue working to new jobs.

There is so much basic knowledge about human functioning that will be key to your success. How do you really bring out the best in people? Do you know?

You are also a human yourself. Are you capable of understanding what this pressure does to you? Have you built a team and an organization around you that brings out the best in you? Who remembers and reinforces the direction and the values of the company, supports you when you live it, and dares to be brutally honest when you take shortcuts or act in destructive ways when you are amygdala hi-jacked?

I keep asking myself, “Why have doctors and psychologists had so little impact in shaping the business world? Why are we often used to handling the consequences and symptoms of low performance and distress rather than building a solid foundation for top performance and wellbeing?” I recently read that well-being economics is the most popular course at the Stockholm School of Economics. I hope this will bring experts in these fields to the top of the business world. We need diversity of thought and competence to handle the complex challenges we face. When the temperature rises, we need to bring out the best of ourselves and the people around us to succeed.

Just want to start a revolution!

Just want to start a revolution!

Two years ago, I founded the Embryo to People Heart Business. Few things have had such an impact on my life as this decision. The decision to leave everything I had in the middle of the pandemic and go after an undefined dream: my dream to build a great company radically but also enjoy life and continue building my family with a second child.

Many companies are founded and strongly impacted by people with engineering and business backgrounds. They have built amazing organizations. Most companies say people are the most important asset of the company. At the same time, many organizations lack deep knowledge about this topic, and the knowledge is often limited to something within HR. However, this knowledge about people is central to all aspects of a company.

As a psychologist and former elite athlete, I look at the business world and see so many dedicated people working hard to achieve outstanding accomplishments. I am amazed both by what they succeed with, but also that they do it despite this knowledge or focus on human functioning. I fear that today’s performance-oriented organizations have become the norm, and we look at these companies to learn. We should look at them to learn the right things. People often perceive me when talking about this as soft and lowering ambition, but no. This is the way of outperforming top performance as we know it today and doing so by being crazily ambitious but also by being crazily sound.

I ask myself why it is ok in most companies to have back-to-back meetings when we know our brain doesn’t function fully – (look at the correlation between people and decisions critical to the success of your org and their schedule). Why is it ok not to give an overweight of positive feedback in most organizations when we know that the impact is huge? Why is professionalism most often referred to as not showing emotions? We are humans with emotions, and leading with emotions gets increasingly important (according to World Economic Forum – if you need a credible source for the business world) in less hierarchical org and more challenging situations. I guess, however, that it’s obvious that it’s not ok to steal money from your company! So, what’s the difference?

The world desperately needs to broaden this view on top performance to handle the challenges we face. Therefore, I dared to start People Heart Business. We are determined to make other aspects of top performance evident so that we can create healthy organizations delivering sustainable, great results to all stakeholders – not only shareholders (but definitely shareholders).

I believe People Heart Business needs to prove our concept not only by advising our customers but by building a wow-company ourselves. Two years since the start, we have been a team of seven great people. We are privileged to work with customers that we adore and with whom we share values in big projects aimed to have a true impact on the business world.

I am incredibly proud of what our team has achieved – but perhaps most proud that we dare to build our company based on the principles we preach. It’s crazy how well these things work when you apply them, but also incredibly scary to do things very differently. It was, to say the least, also challenging to get a pregnancy depression as a CEO during this hypergrowth period. Considering all this, I am grateful to have a team with psychologists, engineers, and business backgrounds on this journey as a CEO and human.

However, I assume we are approximately 993 people, too few to be counted on and to be one of the companies CEOs turn to, not only for support but as a role model of top performance. Well, we continue to dream big and go after our dreams, yet we are humble in that this is a crazy ambition. We just want to start a revolution based on really basic knowledge about human functioning.

It’s scary to take this action – but I‘d rather fail while doing this than give up on my dream about what top performance could be – for me, Julie, and for you!