"Diverse teams expand leadership abilities, and yield better results"
For International Women’s Day, Magnus Persson, Skanska Poland Executive Vice President, shares insights and actions on helping women move ahead. In his role, Magnus oversees building construction and business development. Before that, he was a Regional Manager for Skanska Sweden, and was the inclusion advocate for that Business Unit.
Why are more women needed in construction and project development?
Diverse teams are better teams: they provide better perspectives that help improve performance. For example, there is definitely a connection between diversity and inclusion and health and safety. With diverse competencies, we can see more angles of risk.
An action you are taking to help advance women in our industry is…
First, it is to develop my own understanding of unconscious bias. And to develop my inclusive leadership skills. I am trying to become better at leading inclusive meetings, meetings in which the minority feels welcome, and feels safe in raising their hand to say, “This is my opinion.” Then you start to see women and all underrepresented groups taking steps forward.
I have learned that change starts with me as a leader: It starts with my way of acting, the decisions I take as a leader, and my willingness to learn from my mistakes. I make mistakes all the time with this, so I try to understand why I thought the way I did, why I didn’t see the situation in another way.
What is it like leading diverse teams?
It takes more effort to be the leader of a diverse team. It is more convenient and easy to lead a more homogenous team in which everyone thinks the same: you will not be challenged as a boss if everyone is thinking the same. When I was a Regional Manager with Skanska Sweden, 40 percent of my line managers were women. It was challenging to lead that team, as it was more dynamic and it opened up more discussions. But our management team made much better decisions because we had a broader view. And I developed as a leader.
How can we measure the positive impacts of diversity?
Through our operating profit, our EBIT: The bottom line is where we can measure the impact of diversity. We will get better margins because we will better understand our customers, so we can price our services in a better way. And we will have broader perspectives of our risks to help us plan better, so we will cut our costs. Diverse teams working with inclusion will lead to higher sales and lower costs.