Annual review 2021

Social sustainability

Focus on diversity and inclusion

Axelerate is a business area within Axel Johnson tasked with speeding up the diversity and inclusion efforts in our Group companies, as well as strengthening the Group’s community involvement in diversity and inclusion.


Axelerate supports our companies through Group-wide activities, training and knowledge-raising initiatives. It also works with the development of knowledge-based tools for inclusive recruitment and promotion, as well as with KPIs and goals.

The driving force in its efforts is that we want leaders and employees who can best understand and meet our customers and the society we operate in. We want to ensure that we recruit and develop employees on objective grounds, and thusare using 100 percent of the talent pool. The ambition is for Axel Johnson to become a leader in diversity and inclusion. Together with our Group companies, Axelerate has identified the following five focus areas to make Axel Johnson’s companies leaders in diversity and inclusion:

Ensure that recruitment and promotion processes are based on knowledge and skills.

Equip leaders and employees to be inclusive in practice and to follow up when employees experience inclusion and discrimination.

Ensure diversity and inclusion in marketing and communication.

Strengthen innovation and development of range and offers for possible new customer groups.

Collaborations and new initiatives to reduce exclusion in society.


Since 2014, Axel Johnson has had goals regarding equal gender distribution among managers and the proportion of employees and managers with an international background.

In 2021, we added two new goals. The goal of age distribution is that Axel Johnson should have at least 10 percent of employees and managers in each of five defined age groups.

The goal for inclusion is to have workplaces where employees feel a sense of belonging and are valued for their unique qualities. The level of inclusion will be measured through an employee survey on perceived inclusion in our Group companies. We will monitor our own target development, and our companies will initially be able to compare their development with each other while waiting for other industry players to report on inclusion in the workplace. Given the different focuses of our businesses, the issues and the possibility of goal fulfillment look different at different companies. The most vital function of the goals is not to be 100 percent applicable in every circumstance, but to provide direction for our companies and to create a common framework for our efforts on diversity and inclusion.


Community initiatives and partnerships for inclusion

WE HAVE SEVERAL important partnerships that aim to create inclusive societies. We have just over 1,700 employees from disabled employee organization Samhall in the group. We are co-owners of MITT LIV, a social enterprise specializing in diversity and inclusion and mentoring programs for non-Swedish academics. We are the main partner of THE GLOBAL VILLAGE FOUNDATION, which among other things arranges Järva Week, Sweden’s most important meeting place for issues of exclusion and inclusion.

OUR PORTAL ÖPPNADÖRREN is a gathering place for non-profit organizations that Axel Johnson supports that work for increased inclusion through creating meeting places.

YRKESDÖRREN is run by Axel Johnson and creates meetings between new and established Swedes to broaden professional networks. ÖppnaDörren and Yrkesdörren were created by Axfoundation 2015 and are currently operated within the business area Axelerate.

NYA KOMPISBYRÅN connects new and established Swedes over a coffee or dinner.

SVENSKA MED BABY brings together new and established Swedes with activities for parents of young children and their children. Svenska med baby and Nya Kompisbyrån are non-profit organizations under the umbrella of ÖppnaDörren and supported by Axel Johnson.

Q & A with Eliza Kücükaslan, Head of Axelerate

Why is this important for Axel Johnson?

– From Axel Johnson’s perspective, there are three main driving forces: The first and most basic is to recruit from the entire talent pool. We increase our opportunity to find the best skills and we become more attractive to more people. Feeling they belong at the workplace means employees develop, perform better, thrive and are more engaged.

Secondly, understanding the needs of our customers. Differences among our employees mean we can relate to different customers’ needs better and more people feel at home with us. 

The third is that diverse perspectives enable new thinking, leading to new solutions, better development and decision-making and thus better business.

 There is, of course, also a basic societal perspective on this. Working to ensure equal treatment and inclusion leads to fairer and more inclusive societies and positive social development. 

What is most difficult?

– Change is always difficult! Taking something particular, it is that we work in an area with no ready-made answers, models or KPIs. When and at what level, for example, is it relevant and right to measure background? We want to give individuals space to develop and be assessed on equal terms, and the right to meet and be measured precisely as unique individuals and not as representatives of a group. At the same time, we sometimes at an aggregated group level want to follow developments. There is inevitably tension.  

What is most fun?

– The level of ambition! We have an ambition to be a leader, and this is noticeable in the attention the work receives, where both our CEO and Board Chair sit on Axelerate’s steering group.