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Mr. Henrik Saxborn
CEO at Castellum,
the Winner of GDI 2019

“If you do not have gender diversity, you are not attractive as a business. You don’t attract the best people, the best clients.”

Meet the WINNER of EWoB Gender Diversity Index 2019. We are very much delighted to introduce to you Castellum from Sweden, with Mr.Henrik Saxborn, CEO and Ms.Helena Dino, HR Director.

Sweden, together with Norway and France belong to the TOP 3 countries in the EWoB Gender Diversity Index 2019 with over 30% women in leadership (senior executive and board positions). What are the most remarkable features of gender policies in these highest scoring countries?

Compared to other European countries, in Norway, France and Sweden, childcare services and maternity leaves have been adopted earlier, making it easier for women to enjoy family life and at the same time develop a successful business career. An important feature to support a natural balance in families was the involvement of men in childcare (especially in Sweden and Norway) which means that the traditional gender roles were challenged and eventually have changed.

One of those brave men, who despite of the hurdles, did not hesitate to take on family duties and at the same time has managed to build an incredibly successful career is Henrik Saxborn, CEO of Castellum. Mr. Saxborn has been with Castellum for 15 years, 8 years in the role of CEO.

 ‘When I started 15 years ago, there was already a change happening on the sell side of the industry (real estates). It started at the university – it became attractive for girls. We were diversified at the university level and that was really important. But it took too much time for them to be promoted to CEOs. This was already pointed out when I was starting.’

Here is Mr.Saxborn´s unique view of what helps to make a company diverse in terms of gender: ‘I’d never be able to employ Helena, our HR Director, if we weren’t an attractive company. For me, gender equality is about attractiveness.’

Henrik Saxborn and Helena Dino are true gender diversity pioneers. Their persuasion, stemming from personal life experience and a great deal of empathy, create the characteristic and exceptional gender diversity “blend” at Castellum.

Please, let us share with you more unique quotes by Henrik Saxborn and Helena Dino on gender diversity at Castellum.

  1. How does your government support the companies pursuing gender diversity or specifically gender diversity  in decision making?

Henrik Saxborn: ‘There are no obligations, no money, no tax cuts, nothing from the government at all. My own standpoint is that if you do not have gender diversity, you are not attractive as a business. You don’t attract the best people, the best clients. In simple terms, it’s good business and that is the real icebreaker.’

‘Our societal change comes from what needed to be done during the 60s, after the war. Then, it became normal that everyone was working, both men and women. Nowadays, it is about getting the best brains for the company, but this started during the 60s.’

‘It’s about the concept of the family as well. You cannot come to work and say: “When my child was born, I wasn’t at home taking care of my kid.” The real game changer was that both men and women were to stay home on parental leave. I personally was fired once, back in 1994. I wanted to stay at home when my kid was born, take 6 months off. It was unthinkable back then, however, I wasn’t the only one. I got rehired the next day. Parental leave is the beginning, tax allowances can make it happen. You have to start in the family, to change the society.

2. Challenges with the gender diversity agenda

Helena Dino: ‘Our starting point is the universal parental leave, although, it is very difficult to implement this in some cultures. People sometimes don’t get why both parents should stay at home when a child is born. For instance, in Italy, I often hear men saying: “Why should I stay at home when my wife is already taking care of the child on her own?” Then there is a generational gap. My own kids don’t get at all why gender diversity should even be an issue. For them, it is not a question at all and that makes me really proud. It shows how far we have come.’ 

Henrik Saxborn: ‘We have moved so much during the 60’s, but interestingly, different generations don’t see it that way. Their expectations have changed as well. For example, I am often arguing with my daughter who says this is not enough. For them, gender equality should be the normal.’

3. What programs do you have to push forward your gender diversity agenda?

Helena Dino: ‘Programs exist, but we are currently reviewing them. We want to take them even further, e.g. to address the issue specifically for different nationalities where it is problematic. But also, we are careful not to take it too far, to set up a fair balance. It’s about equal opportunities. We are trying to make sure to have the right tonality, objectives and balance. We need to make sure everyone understands the tangible benefits of gender diversity. We need to get this to every employee’s body so they would want it too.’

Henrik Saxborn: ‘We have educational programs on how to understand the benefits of having women in the team, or on targeting sustainability – you have to change to remain attractive in the future as well as today. Bringing down language barriers is also extremely interesting and powerful. We once translated our educational programs into Arabic for young girls and this has become one of our most watched and shared videos globally. It’s amazing.’

 4. Advice for companies starting with gender diversity agenda

Henrik Saxborn: ‘You must want to do this. You have to understand that if you want your company to survive in the future, to attract the best talent, customers, you have to be brave. It is a fight, a difficult one. You will probably have to change the board – think of it as building your team. When I started, my board was full of 50-year-old white men, it always makes me happy when I’m on a board meeting and I see the difference today. But it takes guts to do this. Today, I’m a part of many boards trying to reach gender diversity. What they all have in common, however, is that they want it. They have decided they want gender diversity and that’s where it starts.’

Helena Dino: ‘It must also come from the top. Many companies just want to check the box and leave it to the HR level. For it to work, the top of the company has to push it as well.’

Thank you to Mr.Henrik Saxborn, CEO Castellum and Ms.Helena Dino, HR Director for sharing their insights on gender diversity with the EWoB supporters.

Congratulations, Castellum, for becoming the WINNER of the EWoB Gender Diversity Index 2019. Taking Nr. 1 position out of STOXX 600 companies is an exceptional achievement.