From Homogeneity to a Diversity in Icelandic Companies

Icelandic companies are experiencing interesting times when it comes to hiring new talent. In the past years there has been a demographic shift with more people migrating into the country. In 2015 about 9% of the population were immigrants which has steadily been rising since 2008. While Iceland is still considered a homogenous society this percentage is not much lower than some neighbouring countries which are regarded as more multicultural such as Italy (9,7%), France (10%) or the UK (13%).

Unemployment in Iceland in 2016 was only about 2,3%-3,6%, one of the lowest in Europe. According to a survey by the Icelandic Directorate of Labour, one in three companies are facing the prospect of labour shortage which means that an even bigger influx of migrants could be needed to meet labour demand. This aspect is something that companies definitely need to account for and incorporate into their hiring strategy and company culture.

Companies need not only to tap into this talent pool out of surplus labour demand but there are also several reports that have shown a relationship between diversity in the workplace and better financial performance. In the past decades Iceland has done very well in tapping into the talent pool of women, with Iceland being best country in the world to be a working woman. However, when speaking of the need of diversity in companies, the discourse is still very much centered around gender. The next step will be to take other factors into consideration such as ethnicity cultural background.

But how should managers make their company more diverse? According to the “Diversity Matters” report from McKinsey companies must for instance establish a clear value proposition for having a diverse and inclusive company culture. Diversity must not only be incorporated into HR policies but also in the brand identity. Furthermore, managers should continuously address potential mindset barriers and biases which can lead to ingroup favouritism.

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