Saab Walks The Talk On Gender Equality

Recognizing Saab’s effort in creating an equal workspace for men and women, the Industry Equality Prize for 2016 has been awarded to Saab.

The prize was awarded by The Industry Council of Sweden (Industrirådet), which is a collaboration between trade unions and employers' organisations, and was given away by Sweden’s Minister for Economic Development and Innovation Mikael Damberg on Industry Day, in Malmö, Sweden.

According to the Industry Council, Saab has impressively moved from words to action when it comes to gender equality. Saab's work is based on the belief that gender equality is a prerequisite for innovation and long-term profitability. The company has, using long-term strategy, succeeded in achieving positive development in a traditionally male-dominated industry.

For Saab, it’s simple – it believes that a diverse company, where women and men have equal opportunities, is more profitable. Saab CEO Håkan Buskhe sums it up succinctly when he says, “At Saab, equality is not a project – it is part of our strategy. For Saab, everybody's equal value is an utterly indispensable part of our heritage.”

“The Industrial Council Prize is confirmation that we are on the right track,” said Håkan Buskhe on receiving the award.

Marie Söderqvist, Chairman of The Industry Council's Gender Equality Group and President of the employers' organization Food Federation, said the award for Saab was well-deserved. “Saab's work shows that there are no shortcuts when it comes to gender equality. It is a continuous effort to promote development, management commitment being the key factor for success.”

A strategic goal for Saab was to increase the share of female managers to at least 30 per cent by 2015-end. Indeed, by the end of the year, Saab had 27.2 per cent female managers in Sweden – a significant progress from 2007, when it was 13 per cent. The expectation is that the number of 30 per cent will be reached in 2016.

Early Initiatives

Saab has always promoted Gender Equality because it believes mixing people, ideas, experiences and cultures leads to a more dynamic company, greater innovation and increased profitability. Dynamic teams create value because of their different ways of thinking. Diversity and equality is a natural part of Saab, from recruitment to daily people management to employer branding.

Realising the importance of gender equality and its positive impact on business early on, Saab took many initiatives for equality. These initiatives were not only about increasing the number of female employees at Saab, but about getting more young girls interested in engineering. Saab is trying to reduce the gender imbalance prevalent in the defence industry by encouraging women to first apply for engineering education.

For instance, Saab participated in Sweden’s ‘Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day” (IGEDay) 2015 by opening its doors to girls between the ages of 12-19, to inspire them to study research, technology, engineering and mathematics. It’s just as important to Saab to attract qualified female engineers to Saab.

Saab’s quest for the “Female Role Model of the Year” award is another initiative to applaud female managers everywhere, not just at Saab. This year’s winner was Stina Tang from EY. She received Saab's Female Role Model of the Year Award because “she inspires young girls to dare to break into male-dominated work environments and because she possesses a strong drive when it comes to integration and diversity in Swedish workplaces.”