I’m not Swedish, but Swedish is my native language
I’m Kira, born and raised in Finland and have lived in the US and UK with my family during my childhood. For the last 7 years I have lived in Sweden.
I belong to a minority in Finland that speaks Swedish as their mother tongue, so I am what is called “Finlandssvensk” (= Swedish speaking Finn). This minority makes up 5% of the Finnish population, so it’s a very small group of people. I therefore speak both Swedish and Finnish. This is very confusing for Swedes, that I speak Swedish as my mother tongue without being from Sweden. And don’t get me started on trying to explain this to someone outside of the Nordics...
Creating a perfect mixture
Cultural diversity for me is about learning how to respect, understand and care for people who aren’t like yourself – a task that is more difficult than many of us want (or dare) to admit. This is something I myself learned from a young age from living abroad. Regardless of how open-minded and multicultural we are, we will always naturally connect with those who are more like ourselves. Cultural diversity is incredibly important for Readly as we operate in several different countries with several different nationalities. We need to come together and create a perfect mixture of different approaches and understandings that generates solutions. It also allows one to think outside the box and to get away from your own thoughts and patterns. A Swede can of course write a well-written sales pitch to an English publisher, but I do believe it is the Englishman who has the advantage by knowing details and cultural pointers that may help him/her to seal the deal.
Readly has a strong work environment foundation that I think all employees agree on. I don’t think anyone who didn’t feel comfortable with Readly’s mindset and view on diversity would be comfortable working here. And the amount of different nationalities that work at Readly is proof of ethnical diversity - then again, we all more or less look the same and all share a language (English), which in the end might not be as hugely diverse as we’d like to think.
The lunch box culture...
Naturally I think and react most to the Swedish ways as I work in the Stockholm office. Just last week, we had a discussion over lunch where the Dutch guy was amazed over the “matlådekultur” (= bringing lunch to the office from home) in Sweden, instead of eating out/buying your lunch. This wasn’t a huge eye-opener for me (or well it was 7 years ago when I moved here), but it’s equally exciting to see something like that happen “live”, when two cultures collide.
...and the meeting culture
I think it’s the way we express ourselves in disagreements that our true cultural traits show – Swedes tend to be afraid of conflicts, I as Finnish might be considered straight forward. Also the way we tend to want to solve problems is where we clash – Swedes like meetings, long meetings, whilst other nationalities may not want or need as many meetings, or at least not very long ones.