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Kantar in conversation with Permobil

Every person has the right to have his or her disability compensated as far as possible by aids with the same technical standard as those we all use in our everyday lives” – Per Uddén, Founder, Permobil

There is no doubt that inclusion and diversity is at the heart of the leading global distributor of technical innovations for people with disabilities. Building on the founder Per Uddén’s idea about equal rights, the company is a great example of a global actor that is taking lead in building its brand from the inside out.

We recently had an opportunity to engage in conversation with Martinus Rönnerman, VP Group Communications at Permobil, and his colleague Emma Qvist, VP HR EMEA.

Kantar: Hi Martinus and Emma, lovely to have an opportunity to hear more about your employer branding work at Permobil. We really want to start at the very core of your company, in the Permobil purpose: to innovate for individuals; to create advanced assistive solutions that make the lives of people living with disabilities more enriching. What can you say about the importance or influence of Permobil’s purpose when it comes to attracting and retaining talent? 

Martinus: First, innovating for individuals is easily understood by everyone in the company and those looking at us as potential employers. We have a proud heritage, but that heritage is about looking forward – to innovate. A strong purpose is a competitive advantage. Our purpose highlights Permobil’s contribution to society and that makes people proud to work for us. But the expectations on us as an employer are also very high. We need to commit to our purpose. 

Emma: When our team members speak about Permobil, it is from the heart. That combination of innovation and social good is an important part of our EVP. For example, I spoke to one of our finance managers sitting in Illinois, US, but servicing the European organisation. He told me how he loves to hear the stories of how we have helped individuals, and he knows that in some small way he has contributed to that. He said that this is not something you can find in every company. 

Kantar: Understanding how you contribute through your work to something greater is so powerful and engaging for people. If you were to give other organizations advice in how to foster a purpose-driven culture, what demands does a strong purpose like Permobil’s place on the organization? In terms of company culture, processes, recruiting for example.

Martinus: We challenge ourselves to put the purpose at the center of everything we do and thus put a responsibility onto all of us. When it comes to things like change management the purpose can then be an anchor point. We have translated the purpose to “behaviour anchors” through our code of conduct and the company core values. Learning about all of this is part of every employee’s onboarding at Permobil and all staff are asked to do a code of conduct training every year. 

Kantar: It sounds like the key to success lies in processes, routines and how you embed this in everyday situations and behaviours. But what about the brand? How do you work practically with the Permobil purpose when it comes to building a brand that is aligned internally with employees and externally with customers and users?  

Emma: One concrete example is that we have set D&I targets for ourselves, notably that our work force should be at least 40% female and 60% male by 2030; and we are reviewing our workplace accessibility for those living with disabilities. This means reviewing everything around HR processes and talent management practices to support our diversity and inclusion targets, including ensuring that our applicant pools are diverse.

Martinus: And constantly making the link to delivering for the users of our products and how we must always do a little more. We do that by telling their stories, both within the company and externally. In both cases we give the people who use our products a platform to speak for themselves. Internally we also get our employees to tell their first-hand stories about helping our users. Those who champion and exhibit our core values are also celebrated and recognized. This inspires and motivates others.

Emma: This year we partnered with fashion designer Louise Linderoth and we did that in part because her objective was more than getting sponsorship from us. Louise was trying to challenge ableism assumptions around people who use wheelchairs. So, our support was not only for one person or one particular group but about wider, positive change. 

Kantar: That is very inspiring! And stories are indeed central to building a brand and what you stand for. How do you in your own words tell the story and make the connection between the company purpose, your focus on diversity and inclusion, and the Permobil brand?

Martinus: Similar to what we just described. We tell stories about how our products help people, how our staff’s clinical knowledge and experience means that we can find the right product and right customisation. We do this so that everyone has the chance to participate in society as they want to. We want to be a mirror for a society we want to see and that means being an inclusive workplace and to collaborate with our users to break norms. For example, supporting initiatives like “Den Långa Vandringen” and e-sports team “Lilmix.Para”.

Kantar: It is great to hear how your stories are spread through employees, users and collaborations. How do you handle the multicultural perspective, being a global organisation? Taking into consideration different cultural contexts relating to D&I.

Emma: It is about leadership, and that we want Permobil to be a leading company, not only in our sector but there is no reason why all workplaces should not be more inclusive to people living with disabilities. We know that diversity and inclusion is not only crucial for the well-being and happiness of our teams, but also our productivity and success as a company. Diverse groups make better decisions than homogeneous ones, and teams perform better when they are made up of a balance of both genders. Having employees who live with disabilities helps us understand our customers even better.

Kantar: Can you give our readers one final takeaway: what are your key learnings working with D&I and your employer brand?

Martinus: It is something that you have to continuously work on and retain and recruit talent. D&I can emphasise different things depending on where you are. But as a company and individual, you need to decide what it means to you but also challenge your own perspective. Whatever it is on a global or local level, it will help strengthen your brand.

Kantar: Thank you so much Martinus and Emma for chatting with us today! 


Mathias Axelsson

Client Director

070-184 21 76

Katarina Önell

Client Director

070-184 22 82

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