International Women’s Day: Erika Larsdotter Hed
March 7, 2023
8 March marks the annual celebration of International Women’s Day, dedicated to recognising the global achievements of women in social, economic, cultural, and political realms. It additionally serves as a reminder to take proactive measures towards promoting gender parity and empowering women. This year, Kreston Global has chosen to showcase several inspirational women from their network and gather their insights on what it means to be a prosperous woman within the organisation.
As the current CEO of Finnhammars Revisionsbyrå, a leading accounting firm based in Sweden, Erika Larsdotter Hed has played a crucial role in shaping the company’s reputation for excellence and dedication to customer service. Finnhammars was founded in 1983 to provide superior accounting services and build lasting client relationships. Today, the firm boasts 12 partners and a team of over 50 employees and continues to be known for its commitment to quality and personalised service. With her extensive experience and industry knowledge, Erika has been instrumental in the firm’s growth and success, having worked at Finnhammars for over 11 years. Her dedication to maintaining high standards and delivering exceptional results make her a valuable asset to the company and an inspiration to her colleagues.
Why did you decide to run your firm?
It is an exciting challenge, and the firm has always been close to my heart, my family were even clients of the firm at one point. We have such a fantastic firm that from the very beginning put long-lasting relationships at its core, both clients, co-workers, suppliers etc. Something I am very proud of is that we have an average time of employment of nearly 15 years!
It’s a lot of hard work and challenges for sure. However, to be able to be in a position where I can be a part of developing the firm is a huge motivating factor for me.
We are now seeing a generational shift and I can contribute with leadership that suits the change in the organisation I am proud to be a part of representing and leading the firm into the next generation.
I am also proud to, in some ways, be a representative for diversity which I firmly believe is something that creates an essential climate for sustainability.
What qualities do you need to run a successful accounting firm?
Running a successful accounting firm requires a variety of skills. We have a fantastic team with strong technical expertise in accounting, tax, and auditing combined with business acumen.
As I mentioned earlier, we put relationships at heart- we strive to be responsive to our client’s needs.
I also see that being curious and willing to work to both maintain and develop the company’s culture is essential. A part of that includes looking at the bigger picture and to look ahead where a part of that is having an international perspective.
How do you support equality in your firm?
We constantly work to recruit, attract, and retain strong female role models and it is going in the right direction. We strive to create a work environment that values diversity and encourages open communication, collaboration, and respect for different perspectives and opinions. We regularly review our policies and practices to ensure they align with our values of equality and inclusivity, but we still have work to do.
Equality is a strategically important issue for the industry, and we, as well as many other firms in our industry, are struggling. The percentage of female partners in the accounting industry in Sweden is 29%. We can also see that 1% of all venture capital is invested in teams with only female partners.
When you work in an environment with an unequal representation, it may not be as likely to see yourself as a partner in the long term, therefore it is our responsibility to emphasize that we see both women and men as future partners.
We are proud to see a higher equal proportion when it comes to parental leave, where I believe we as a country have made some significant progress. You can roughly say that Swedish parents today get paid 80 % of their salaries up to 390 days and each parent has 90 of these days reserved for that person. We as a firm are seeing a more even distribution between the genders today compared to a decade ago.
We as a business have a responsibility to our staff to combine private life with working life and a career in the auditing industry.
We recently surveyed ‘interpreneurs’ – entrepreneurs looking to expand internationally. The data showed that female CEOs were more likely than males to consider expanding overseas. Why do you think this might be?
The survey showed a 3% difference between the genders but also a 38% difference between the age gaps 31-40 compared to 51 and older. I find it easier to explain the difference in age compared to the variable of gender considering we live in an internationalized world where technology, the internet and communications all facilitates expansion overseas.
What advice would you give female entrepreneurs starting today, or would you give your 28-year-old self?
Be yourself and be brave and find your own path. Our differences are our strengths.
To learn more about doing business in Sweden, click here.