Annika Berglund new Chairman of the Board

The Board of the International Council of Swedish Industry (NIR) has appointed a new Chairman. In the spring of 2019 Mr. Erik Belfrage, Chairman of the Board for fifteen years, announced his plan to hand over the chairmanship in 2020 after introducing Mrs. Christine Bäckström as new CEO. The process of finding a successor has been on-going. Due to the sudden and tragic passing of Mr. Erik Belfrage in April, the Board of Directors gathered for an advanced Annual meeting and a new Chairman was appointed.

“We are pleased that Mrs. Annika Berglund has accepted the role as Chairman of the Board. Erik was very engaged in the process and I believe he would have welcomed the Board decision to elect Annika, who served as Board member under Erik’s chairmanship between 2013-2017”, says CEO Christine Bäckström.

Prior to her new role Annika Berglund, has been Senior Vice President Corporate Communication at Atlas Copco and during her twenty years in the company she held various positions in marketing and sales. Between 2015 and 2019 she was a Board Member of the Peter Wallenberg Water for All Foundation.

Leaving the company 2018 she started an independent strategic consultancy firm and a second company that promotes to inspire women to take charge of their careers and go for leading positions.

“I am very excited about becoming the Chair of NIR and look forward to contributing to NIR’s development and to sharing the knowledge of its important work and achievements ”, says Annika Berglund.

Three questions to Annika:

You live as you learn … (regarding promoting women to take care of their career to leading positions) What are your expectations on the role as Chairman of the Board?

I am really grateful for the opportunity to be the Chairman of the Board and look forward to reconnecting with NIR and its Board in this new role.

My predecessor Erik Belfrage has done a tremendous job, the organization has a very good reputation, it has committed and professional employees delivering results, and I look forward to contributing to the development of NIR from now onwards.

Related to the issue of taking care of your career: I believe that you can do what you want, no matter if you are a woman or a man. Let people know what you want and go for it!

You have worked in Swedish business for a long time. As Chairman of NIR  you will work in the nexus between private and public sector. What should these two learn from each other? 

The competitiveness of Swedish companies is close to my heart and I truly believe that they should be present in all corners of the world. It is only through presence that you can serve as a role model, influence, and contribute.

Having said this, it is always difficult to navigate in an environment that is complex and sometimes impossible even when it is obvious that business opportunities exist.

Through its work – and network – NIR can help companies to overcome the challenges by increasing the understanding of the requirements.

The Board members of NIR represent some of Sweden’s most global and successful companies. Through NIR they have a top-notch partner in increasing knowledge, insight and expanding their networks.

What do you think NIR can bring to the global challenges ahead? 

I believe that if NIR did not exist NIR would have to be invented considering the need for the private sector to engage in some of the most pressing global issues. Companies cannot do it all by themselves on their own.

As a member of NIR, companies can contribute to development cooperation, education, capacity building, business practices and sustainability in the most challenging contexts. To the benefit of both Sweden, the member companies/organizations and to the local societies that NIR is working with.

More recent highlights


This executive summary presents the findings from the study “Workplace Cooperation: Finding Practical Solutions in the Colombian Context,” conducted by the Fundación Ideas para la Paz (FIP). The study evaluates the added value of the Swedish Workplace Programme (SWP) dialogue and cooperation model within the Colombian labor market.

Throughout 2022, FIP dedicated efforts to thoroughly understand the SWP model, including its concept, foundations, implementation process, and contributions to the labor market. In 2023, FIP documented the experiences of three companies—SKF Latin Trade, Securitas, and Epiroc—that implemented the SWP model in practice. The study also included face-to-face workshops to gather feedback from various stakeholders including civil society, businesses, government, academia, and international cooperation. The findings suggest that the SWP model has the potential to strengthen labor relations, contribute to decent work, and resolve workplace conflicts in Colombia.

The case studies highlight the importance of collaboration between employers and workers to promote decent work and sustainable development in Colombia. They demonstrate that social dialogue facilitates worker participation in labor decision-making, enhances their representativeness, and promotes cooperation between employers and employees, thus improving labor relations and contributing to the well-being of both employees and companies.

The SWP model is particularly noted for improving workplace relationships and commitment to jointly finding solutions to challenges faced by workers and the company. It empowers workers, enhances leadership, and helps integrate business policies into daily practices, reducing the initial disconnect between management objectives and the day-to-day realities of workers. The study also highlights the model’s capacity to manage conflicts constructively, transforming the perception of conflict as an opportunity for improvement. Structured dialogues deepen understanding of the underlying causes of conflicts, fostering empathy and facilitating effective resolution. This promotes a culture of collaboration and a democratic approach to decision-making, building trust.

Additionally, the model is recognized for enabling workers to make decisions, identify challenges, and propose solutions that impact their well-being, and bridging gender gaps in the workplace. Its inclusive approach adapts to the unique needs and characteristics of each company, promoting a stronger and more diverse organizational culture. It also drives good work performance and productivity by involving workers in problem identification and resolution, as well as in implementing improvements and efficiently identifying ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) risks for companies.

The document identifies the SWP model’s added value in empowering direct interaction among labor stakeholders in Colombia, overcoming historical or cultural reservations, and contributing to the development of stronger labor relations and improved workplace environments in the country.

Challenges and opportunities of the model are also discussed. The study points out the importance of addressing value chain risks, particularly in a global context where corporate clients demand decent work processes and due diligence. It emphasizes the need to integrate SMEs into this process and use anchor companies as drivers of social dialogue throughout the value chain. The role of the state in social dialogue and the importance of highlighting the benefits of the model for adoption across various business sectors are discussed.

The opportunities of the model include raising awareness of human rights in the workplace in line with the United Nations Guiding Principles (UNGP), to strengthen due diligence, manage risks, promote long-term sustainability, and improve organizational culture. The document also underscores the importance of involving workers in change processes, leveraging their insights for continuous improvement of processes, and fostering innovation opportunities. Lastly, it suggests replicating the model in value chains to address work environment risks and gender biases, involving suppliers and contractors, and integrating the model into corporate policies to strengthen existing programs and transform organizational culture towards resource efficiency and effective participation of employers and workers.