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Diversity is crucial, being too alike does not work anymore

Mia Hamstedt

Curiosity has formed Mia Hamstedt’s career. “I have always been interested in people, what drives them and what makes them happy and productive.” Since 2018 she has been responsible for SEB’s work with inclusion and diversity issues.

According to Mia, taking inclusion and diversity issues seriously has become increasingly important for companies.

“Not just because it is the right thing to do, but because it will affect what possibilities we have to be a successful company in the future as well. Previously having homogenous groups could work. But as the world changes and becoming more complex by the day, we need to be flexible and adaptable to succeed. 

“An important part of the thought and innovation process is to have people who contribute with different perspectives, different experiences and different ways of solving problems.”

In Mia’s opinion, the ongoing transformation of the financial industry is something that affects SEB and other banks right now.

“It is not just traditional banks that offer banking services. And we are meeting our customers in new ways, which means that the term ‘bank’ gets blurred. Furthermore, we need to find new types of skills in our sector and find new ways to collaborate, both within and outside the industry.”

A changing world also means that today it is increasingly important to constantly learn new things and broaden our skill set.

“It is important to be curious and to want to constantly broaden our skill set. To support our staff in their broadening their skills we have as example developed the SEB Campus training platform which offers courses in everything from technology to sustainability.”

Mia explains that she sees inclusion as a culture where everyone can be themselves and be respected and appreciated for who they are and the contribution they bring.

“Everyone must be allowed to feel that they are part of a whole and that their contribution is important. We also need to feel that we are being heard, even if we can’t always get our own way.”

With regard to diversity, she splits it into two parts: inner and outer. The inner is about such things as personality, experience and how you solve problems while the outer includes gender, age and ethnicity.

“We need to work with both inner and outer diversity both are important. There can be many whys’ on why a team or organization is too homogenius. One reason I often talk about is the ability or inability to evaluate and recognize competence and skills outside your own regular network, experience and competence. This can be difficult and you need to dare and expose yourselves and your team to grow both as a team and individuals over time."

“A team that can master diversity of thought will perform better over time than a team that is to homogeneous or where the culture is not sufficiently inclusive. I myself have had the privilege of working in teams with wide diversity a number of times in my career. In that environment I learnt a lot about myself, about others and what we can achieve together.”

About Maria Hamstedt

Title: Chief Inclusion & Diversity Officer'.

Education: Economics (linguistics specialisation) at Upper Secondary School.

Interesting facts: Mother of two sons and now also a grandmother. When there is time, I play golf or go for a spin on my Harley.