Cross-cultural insights support – policy to practice


To increase the understanding of what it is like to work with human resources in different cultures SWP arranged four digital meetings for people working with HR in Sweden and Vietnam. SWP also put together mentor pairs for mutual exchange between the meetings. People from, among others, Tetra Pak, Electrolux, Saab, Ericsson, Atlas Copco, Hitachi Energy, ABB and several local companies in Vietnam participated in the network.

” The meetings have given me more insight into how the culture we live in affects working life and how we look at things like gender equality, work environment and mental health. What employees in Sweden think is important for their wellbeing does not have to be the same in Vietnam, for example”, says Hannah Ekendahl, HR Business Partner at Hitachi Energy in Sweden.


From global policy to practice

Global policies are not received and understood the same way all over the world. Hannah Ekendahl believes that this insight is important to have for everyone working with HR at global companies.

“Otherwise, there is a risk that you get narrowminded and think that global policies are received and understood the same way all over the world”.

“An extremely simple and effective way to create a greater understanding of what inclusion means in practice”

During the meetings, external lecturers talked about intercultural communication, mental health, diversity and inclusion, and workplace cooperation. Great focus was on group discussions to exchange experiences and learn from each other. Since the working cultures in Sweden and Vietnam differ a lot, not at least when it comes to hierarchy, there were a lot of interesting discussions. 

“Meeting and discussing a specific topic, with people who have a completely different background, is an extremely simple and effective way to create a greater understanding of what inclusion means in practice,” says Hannah Ekendahl.

Mentor pairs for mutual exchange

To provide an opportunity for further discussions between the meetings, SWP offered the participants to be part of a mentor pair for mutual exchange between the countries. Hannah Ekendahl, was paired with Ngan Doan Thi, Learning & Development Partner at Hitachi Energy in Vietnam. They belong to the same group but would probably not have gotten in touch if it were not for the network.

“It’s great fun to get the chance to get to know an HR colleague from a completely different culture. Among other things, we have discussed how we can work to further improve diversity and what similarities and differences there are between our countries and what we can learn from each other”, says Hannah Ekendahl.

Starting point for HR-network in Vietnam

After the series of seminars HR practitioners located in Vietnam initiated their own network for exchange and learning around topics like diversity and inclusion, employee engagement and workplace cooperation.

More recent highlights


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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.