Bullying and harassment at Sweden’s new Gender Equality Agency
Sweden is often synonymous with feminist fanaticism. The country's Gender Equality Agency was opened in January this year and is thus one of its newest agencies. However, even before the government could celebrate a year, 70 percent of the staff are at risk of ill health and more than half suffer from burnout and fatigue. It seems the agency's disastrous workplace culture is related to its staunchly feminist leadership. There is not a single man in the "equal" management group.
Published: December 7, 2018, 2:17 pm
The Gender Equality Agency is Sweden’s newest authority. Not even one year has passed since the authority was established, and already an internal report concludes that 70 percent of the employees are at risk of becoming ill, and half of the employees are suffer from fatigue syndrome. Why? Because of bullying and harassment at the feminist work place. Now the question arises if this is the result of the agency’s feminist leadership – on its “equal” board of directors, all are women.
Free West Media has read the internal survey drawn up by the corporate healthcare company Avonova, ordered by the new Swedish authority, the Swedish Gender Equality agency. Forty-five people participated in the survey, which represents 78 percent of the employees, of which four out of five are women. The survey concludes that the new feminist and overwhelmingly female authority has severe problems when it comes to its working environment:
- More than half the staff has sleep-related problems and are suffering from fatigue syndrome.
- More than 70 percent are at risk of illness due to their work environment.
- Harassment and bullying are commonplace. Half of the participants say that bullying is a problem at the authority. Nearly one in five have themselves been subjugated to bullying.
- 78 percent say that there are no procedures to prevent bullying.
- 22 percent say that they are experiencing difficulties cooperating with their co-workers.
- Many employees run health risks due to a lack of leadership. About 40 percent of all participants say that the leadership is neither encouraging, nor fair.
Avonova recommends that the authority deal with the harassment and bullying. “The survey shows stress-related problems that need to be addressed. Don’t sleep on these results – act!” the report concludes.
The Gender Equality Agency opened its doors on the first of January this year, on an initiative from Sweden’s first “feminist” government, and its objective is to support and promote the government’s equality agenda. Not least, the authority is to act as role model, and make sure other agencies follow their example – a project that each year will cost the Swedish taxpayers 2,5 million dollars.
For those interested in behavioural psychology, the dismal results from the Gender Equality Agency hardly comes as a shock. Research supports the findings that female bosses more often treat other women badly. This phenomenon was found in the 70’s and is known as the “Queen bee syndrome”, and has been proven in countless studies since then. The female bee sees other female co-workers as competitors and acts in a repressive manner towards them.
A big study done in 2009, with over 21 000 participants, by the organization Eurofond showed that the risk of workplace bullying for women increases if the boss is also a woman. People with female bosses are also in general more displeased with their work. Two Canadian scientists found that this was due to the fact that women try to sabotage, instead of helping each other, thereby securing their own positions.
Female board of directors
Even though the Gender Equality Agency has as its mission to “equality integrate” other authorities, its own board of directors is far from equal. Out of the six people that make up the board – the CEO and the five department executives – all are women. Among the employees, 70 percent are women.
In an interview with the Swedish newspaper Norrbotten Mediaweek, the CEO Lena Ag proclaimed:
“Today we are 70 percent women and 30 percent men. That’s something we are very happy about.”
“But in the long term we’re aiming at an even gender distribution.”
A Swedish center-right columnist, Jenny Sonesson, wrote regarding the overrepresentation of women:
“Men don’t seem to have equal opportunities at the authority responsible for analyzing the equality problem. It is remarkable that a single gender group is charged with this mission, meanwhile writing on their own website that the Gender Equality Agency is all about an equal gender distribution.”
Karl-Johan Bondesson, press spokesperson at the Gender Equality Agency, told Free West Media that there were not any men fit for the job.
“This is the reality. We, as a government agency, we can’t put a quota in place, but have to see to merit. The rules are clear on what is allowed and what is not in a government workplace, and we can’t enforce a quota. When that is the case, those with the most merit get the jobs.”
FWM: Are you actively trying to get a more equal gender distribution?
“I think there is wide support for working in that direction, but there are limitations as to how far we can influence it.”
FWM: Would you have the same mindset if the situation were the reverse: that the board of directors were only men, and that 70 percent of the employees were men? Would that be a problem?
“My role is as a press spokesman and I won’t comment on that.”
Bondesson referred us to the department of human resources, but Free West Media has been unable to get a comment, despite repeated attempts.
Criticized bosses on account of bad work place environment
A year ago, before her appointment as head of the Gender Equality Agency, during the most hectic phase of the #metoo debate, Lena Ag was interviewed on the topic of leadership in the Swedish newspaper Chefstidningen. In the interview, Ag encouraged other executives to create a better workplace, and look after their own businesses. Now she is herself located at the centre of the problems at the Gender Equality Agency.
In an interview with the public-service news show Ekot, Ag admits that there were signs of “anxiety among the co-workers” as early as this spring. She added that “it’s not that easy” to start an agency with employees from all corners of society and create a common workplace culture.
The show host at Ekot said that employees at the agency reported that the situation was a “catastrophe”.
“Really? Well, okay”, said Lena Ag, and assured that she had a positive outlook and that things were heading in the right direction at the agency. She did not, however, want to answer as when the agency would be on “the right track” again. The agency has now reached out to the union to improve the situation.
Accepted a million dollars wearing a ‘pussy hat’
The 61-year old Lena Ag has a long history in the social-democratic sphere, as well as in the feminist movement. She has formerly been active in the Social Democratic Party, and has worked for the party both in parliament and in government.
She was headhunted from the foundation Woman to Woman, where she had been the head for ten years. The foundation is largely funded by tax payers through different government subsidies and foundations. Woman to Woman has 60 employees in Sweden, all of them women.
Women to Women is also one of the beneficiaries of the charity lottery Postkodslotteriet, which has contributed almost ten million dollars to the feminist organization since its start in 2005. In the latest annual report from Woman to Woman, Lena Ag and her colleague pose on a picture with the subtitle “gladly accepting the check wearing pussy hats”.
The “pussy hat” reached its fame as a feminist symbol as a protest against Donald Trump’s inauguration in 2017. In 2018 the trend faded away, after American feminists proclaimed the hat offensive to trans persons.
Critical of the national anthem
But it’s not only women’s issues that the foundation Women to Women deals with; they are also involved in questions relating to multi-culturalism and immigration. Despite the fact that they label themselves as a “politically nonpartisan” foundation, they rallied against nationalism and for a parliamentary blockade of the Swedish nationalist party, the Sweden Democrats – motivated by the fact that 80 percent did not vote for them.
The foundation presented an anti-Sweden Democrats policy, saying that Woman to Woman should boycott the party at all opportunities – even in questions where they agree. “Specific policies are subjuct to our core values,” the policy reads.
As the head of Woman to Woman, Lena Ag wrote an op-ed published in one of Sweden’s biggest evening newspapers, Aftonbladet, on the Swedish national day on 6th of June. She warned women against nationalism, and her headline read “Women, the nationalists oppose your freedom”. She went on to say that a conservative view of the family “has echoes of national socialism, where the mother’s responsibility was to produce an Aryan offspring”.
Ag presents a list of opponents of women’s rights: Poland, Donald Trump, Russia, the Sweden Democrats and the Christian Democrats (a Swedish center-right party). She says that she is worried about the fact that “the national day risks being kidnapped by Swedish nationalists” instead of being about what she means it should be, namely celebrating “all who work for an inclusive and equal Sweden. A country where the foundation must be human rights and equality.”
Handed out contributions to menstrual certification
In Ag’s interview as the head of the Gender Equality Agency with Ekot, she once again presented ideas similar to the ones in her op-ed.
On the interviewer’s question as to why the agency funded a project for menstrual certifications of workplaces, and a feminist crash course aimed to counteract the male-dominated debate regarding nuclear weapons, Ag responded that women “are being opposed on a global plane by Iran, Russia and the Vatican” and that the debate on menstrual questions therefore is “relevant”, since it is about promoting women’s rights in the community.
Exactly this point may be debated with the Gender Equality Agency, since all counties in Sweden are already obliged to follow the government’s equality policy.
Ag says that the agency “might have a bigger reach, and in some way will raise awareness and spread knowledge on a bigger scale and into the arteries of society”.
The Gender Equality Agency has 60 employees, and has during its first year cost the Swedish taxpayer almost 12 million dollars.
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