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Family businesses often good role models

Therese Gustafsson
From the beginning, it was not taken for granted that Therese Gustafsson would work actively in the family business. Today, she is Board Chair of Löfberg Fastigheter and her commitment to an inclusive business community is great.

Swedish coffee company Löfbergs has more than 100 years of history and the Board Chair of Löfberg Fastigheter, Therese Gustafsson, knows the strengths of a family-run company. Inclusion is a matter dear to her heart.

There is a lot of talk about inclusive companies performing better and being more profitable than other companies. Family-owned businesses are often at the forefront here and have a lot to teach, says Therese Gustafsson, Board Chair of property mana­gement subsidiary Löfberg Fastigheter.

“Since customers are a mix of women and men, the boardroom and the management team should have the same mix. We naturally have different perspectives depending on gender, age, background and more.”

Therese Gustafsson says she longs for this to become automatic.

“For now we must continue to talk about it and highlight the companies that have succeeded. There are a lot of good role models in family businesses – and the more women owners there are, the more role models we will have.”

Löfbergs was started by three brothers in 1906. Leadership was dominated by males for the first two generations, but now there is a balance. It was the third generation that paved the way for the fourth to improve in the area of equality.

“It was above all my father, Anders Löfberg, who made equality important. He had three daughters and two sons, so it came naturally.”

There are no expectations from the Löfberg family to work in the family business, but the children were educated early on about the company and there was never any difference in gender in the discussions.

“We were always included in the conversation around the dinner table and no one treated us differently depending on whether we were girls or boys. We were brought up as individuals with the same demands – just as we have the same opportunities.”

Today, three of five boards in the Löfberg family’s corporate group are predominated by women. In the coffee company, 40 percent of 345 employees are women and in the property division three out of four.
Therese Gustafsson believes that Löfbergs has so many women in leading positions because it is a family-owned company.

“It comes naturally in a different way when the owners are both women and men.”

At Löfbergs, they also work actively through a program with “inclusion ambassadors.” Just as it sounds, the ambassadors’ task is to make sure all are included, and the project has been very successful.

“The key word we always end up on is competence. If we look beyond the differences and see the competence, we will achieve success,” Gustafsson stresses.

It was not obvious to her that she would work for the company. Several of the family work outside the company, but are active on the board.

“I worked in England after I finished my studies and from a distance I saw how exciting our company was, which got me more interested.”

She started working for the company in 2005. Interest in the real estate industry grew over time, and in 2019 she took over as Board Chair of Löfberg Fastigheter.

Löfbergs has owned properties for a long time, primarily its own production facilities, warehouses and offices. A few years ago, the warehouse was moved out of the center of the mid-Swedish city of Karlstad, offering the opportunity to be involved in building a new district in the city.

“Now we have a new project in Tullholmsviken, a stone’s throw away, and we will continue to be a long-term player in the local market.”

The family has an important rule – following higher education, you must work at least five years outside the family business to gain experience.

“While it is positive when owners work at the company because they know the company from the ground up, it is important for us and other employees that we get in on our own merits,” says Therese Gustafsson.

In response to the question of how we together should contribute to a more equal business life, she says:

“To constantly encourage our children and young people to be individuals and follow their dreams. To make no difference between boys and girls in upbringing and to continue to show good examples in all possible forums.”

Parent company Bröderna Löfberg AB has three subsidiaries

  • Kafferosteriet Löfbergs 
  • Löfberg Invest
  • Löfberg Fastigheter

Alongside the three companies is the Löfberg Family Foundation, focused on sustainable development in coffee-growing countries.

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