Active measures in Sweden – in theory and in practice

Migrants in Sweden


by Paul Lappalainen, Yamam Al-Zubaidi and Paula Jonsson


The history in Sweden of the civil laws against discrimination is central to the use of active measures. A short overview is presented. Then, after an introduction to the provisions on active measures under the current 2009 Discrimination Act, we have provided an overview of certain experiences concerning the monitoring of those provisions as well as the provisions that existed in earlier laws. This is followed by some reflections on sanctions and incentives. We then discuss some areas which can be related to the issue of active measures. The paper ends with some final comments on active measures.

Two limitations concerning this paper should be noted. We will not be discussing active measures in regard to schools or higher education. Also, the views presented solely represent the personal views of the authors.

Initially, concerning active measures we would like to point out some of our basic ideas about the development of active measures and their relevance in relation to individual complaints.

Establishing an individual right of redress in regards to discrimination was a positive step towards a society without discrimination. However, such laws are reactive and place the burden of social change on the hope that individuals subjected to discrimination will carry the burden of bringing complaints that redress their situation and hopefully contribute to the establishment of equality as a norm.

Fairly early in this development it was realized by some actors (discriminated groups, policymakers, etc.) that complementary measures were needed. This led to the idea of active measures that would in one way or another promote equality and prevent discrimination. Instead of being reactive and relying on persons that are in vulnerable positions, the focus is instead on proactive measures that put pressure on those with the power to discriminate and/or the power to prevent discrimination.
In summary, individual complaints will lead to societal change in a slow manner while active measures of various types are intended to push the process faster on a broader scale.

At the same time, since active measures in working life are focused on employers it is important to ensure that sanctions and/or incentives are in place that will seriously encourage employers to actually implement them – both in theory and in practice. As indicated in the text, the theory and requirements are in place, but thus far the results have been limited. Presumably this is because the sanctions/incentives have been insufficient.

Active measures in a stricter sense are to be found in the 2009 Discrimination Act and some of the laws replaced by this new Act.

Legislative history in brief

Prior to 2009 Sweden had basically seven civil laws banning discrimination. In 1980 Sweden adopted the Equal Opportunities Act (concerning gender). This law banned gender discrimination in working life. It also included some provisions on active measures that were strengthened over the years. In 1994 Sweden banned ethnic discrimination in working life. This act was  revised and strengthened in 1999 and included some provisions concerning active measures. In 1999 two other laws were adopted banning discrimination in working life due to sexual orientation and disability. These latter two acts contained no specific provisions on active measures. In 2001 the Equal Treatment of Students at Universities Act was adopted, in 2003 the Discrimination Act basically banning discrimination in the provision of goods and services and in 2006 the Act on the prohibition of discrimination and other degrading treatment of children and pupils. These last three laws essentially covered gender, ethnicity, religion, disability and sexual orientation.

Up until 2009 there were four supervisory bodies related to the various grounds; the Equal Opportunities Ombudsman (1980 - gender), the Ombudsman against ethnic discrimination (1986), the Disability Ombudsman (1994) and the Ombudsman against discrimination due to sexual orientation (1999).

Finally, these laws were merged into the comprehensive Discrimination Act which went into effect in 2009. In the same year, the four discrimination ombudsmen were merged into the Swedish Equality Ombudsman.

Active measures according to the Discrimination Act

A new Discrimination Act entered into force on 1 January 2009 as a result of a government inquiry set up in 2002.

The inquiry had proposed a leveling up of the active measures in the old laws to cover the “old” grounds of disability and sexual orientation and the new grounds of age and transgender identity.

The government instead simply merged the rules concerning active measures into the new law. It was stated that the effectiveness of the provisions on active measures had not been sufficiently evaluated.

The new law thus retained the differences between the various grounds concerning active measures and these provisions remained almost the same as in the previous different acts.  This means they only comprise the grounds sex, ethnicity, religion or other belief and the differences between active measures regarding sex as opposed to ethnicity and religion or other belief remain. This also meant that the previous hierarchy of grounds was to a large extent retained – with sex at the top followed by ethnicity and religion and then all the other grounds.

Basically it can be said that employers must have gender equality plans and gender pay gap analyses. Furthermore, within the limits of EU-law positive treatment in working life is allowed in regard to the underrepresented sex.

Concerning ethnicity and religion or other belief, employers must undertake active measures to promote equality with regard to these grounds. However, positive treatment is not allowed.

Thus, in general, according to the Act all employers have a duty to undertake active measures to bring about equal rights and opportunities in the workplace regardless of sex, ethnicity and religion or other belief. This should be done in cooperation with the employees who are usually represented by their trade unions.

According to Chapter 3 § 3 of the Act this work shall be goal oriented. This section comprises sex, ethnicity, religion or other belief. There are separate provisions stating that all employers with 25 employees or more shall set up a gender equality plan. There has been a discussion about whether goal oriented means that employers have to set up written action plans that also covers ethnicity, religion or other belief. The Equality Ombudsman has stated that there is no obligation to collect all related information in a specific written plan though it seems that it would be difficult to carry out a goal oriented work without such documentation. At least for now, the Ombudsman recommends that employers include all of these grounds in an equality plan.

The obligation concerns the following areas:

Working conditions

  • Ensure that the working conditions are suitable for all employees (sex, ethnicity, religion or other belief);
  • Enable both female and male employees to combine employment and parenthood (sex, ethnicity, religion or other belief);
  • Prevent and hinder any employee being subjected to harassment or reprisals (sex, ethnicity, religion or other belief).


  • Ensure that people have the opportunity to apply for vacant positions (sex, ethnicity, religion or other belief);
  • Promote an equal distribution of women and men in different types of works and employee categories (sex);
  • Make special efforts to achieve an equal distribution between men and women in all employee categories (sex).

Matters of pay (sex)

  • Every three years survey and analyze
    • provisions and practices regarding pay and other terms of employment;
    • pay differences between women and men performing work that is to be regarded as equal or of equal value.
  • Every three years draw up an action plan for equal pay (obligation when 25 or more employees) including the result of the survey and analysis, indication of pay adjustments and other measures and a cost estimate and timetable (soonest possible and within three years at the latest). A report on and evaluation of the above is to be included in the following action plan.
  • Provide trade unions information necessary to ensure their ability to cooperate properly in the survey, analysis and with the action plan.

Gender equality plan (sex – though in practice, please note the analysis concerning all the relevant grounds and goal oriented work)

  • Every three years draw up a gender equality plan (obligation when 25 or more employees).

The Act consists of two parts, one part containing provisions on prohibitions against discrimination and reprisals, the other containing provisions on active measures. Though the second part could be thought of as the part relating to the promotion of equal rights and opportunities, the preparatory work clearly states that the two parts are closely linked together and the aim of both parts is equal rights and opportunities in practice. It is stated that the prohibitions, in addition to being the tool of achieving individual rights, are intended to promote non-discrimination through changing behavior, attitudes and public opinion. Nevertheless it is stated that prohibitions are not enough to realize equal rights and opportunities within a reachable future. Active measures are therefore to be seen as a means for promoting equality for larger groups of people in a more direct way.

Failure to comply with the provisions on active measures is subject to a financial penalty that can be issued by the Board against discrimination as the result of a complaint filed by the Equality Ombudsman. For various reasons this type of procedure and sanctions have been insufficient to provide employers with a serious incentive to develop good practices when it comes to active measures. In our opinion, various improvements are needed as well as other complementary tools in order to achieve the use of more effective active measures.

Some of the tools needed for such supervision are regulated in the Discrimination Act (Chapter 4, § 3):

A natural or legal person who is subject to the prohibitions of discrimination and reprisals, the obligation to investigate and take measures against harassment or the provisions on active measures in this Act is obliged, at the request of the Equality Ombudsman,

  1. to provide information about circumstances in their activities that are of importance for the supervision exercised by the Ombudsman,
  2. to provide information about qualifications when the Ombudsman is assisting in a request from an individual under Chapter 2, Section 4 or 8,
  3. to give the Ombudsman access to workplaces and other premises where the activities are conducted for the purpose of investigations that may be of importance to the supervision exercised by the Ombudsman, and
  4. to attend discussions with the Ombudsman.

More strategic use needs to be made of these tools. They also need to be seen in the context of related tools. Anti-discrimination clauses in public contracts are one such tool. At least this seems to have stimulated the pro-active private sector work in the US. Placing a higher equality duty on the public sector is another such tool. Gender and other forms of equality “mainstreaming” are not uncommon in Sweden. Developing active measures containing sanctions/incentives that would help make these efforts become more effective should be possible.

Monitoring compliance with active measures provisions

With the 1980 Equal Opportunities Act (concerning gender discrimination in working life), Sweden got its first ever provisions on active measures. The provisions concerned working life only and were relatively weak. Firstly, the Act did not include any requirements on written documentation of the pro-active work. Secondly, the provisions were made optional. In other words the provisions were subsidiary to collective bargaining agreements. Consequently and for a little more than a decade, the right to oversight of gender equality plans was rarely exercised, mainly due to the idea that not much could be achieved through monitoring.

In 1992, further supervisory powers were given to the Equal Opportunities Ombudsman through the amended version of the same Act, which - this time - included requirements on written gender equality plans.  Even though the requirements to have written action plans were optional in that they could be replaced by a collective bargaining agreement, the mere existence of those requirements made monitoring more interesting and thereby less rare. The results of the supervisions exercised during about 2 years brought to light the poor quality of the written action plans. Only a handful of the 350 written action plans examined (concerning the period of 1993-1995) proved to be fully satisfactory. (1)

However, in 1994 the Act was strengthened once again. Written action plans came to stay. Avoiding the requirement of written documentation of the pro-active work through collective bargaining agreements was no longer possible. Several new provisions were introduced including a provision on goal-oriented active measures and the requirement of a yearly evaluation of an action plan. A provision on pay gap surveys was introduced in that same year as well. Nevertheless, it was not until 2001 when the notion of “work of equal value” was introduced that the gender pay issues became a target for monitoring in a serious way.

In 2005 the Equal Opportunities Ombudsman commissioned a survey from Statistics Sweden (the national statistical agency) that, among other things, asked about the extent to which employers (businesses and government agencies) had a current gender equality plan for 2004/2005 as required by law. According to the survey almost 80% of government agencies had a plan, while only 30% of the businesses had a plan. While about 80% of businesses with 200 or more employees had a plan, 57% of businesses with 50-199 employees had plan and only 25% with 10 to 49 employees had a plan. Even though the percentages in both the public and private sectors had improved since the previous survey in 1999, the figures still showed a substantial deviation from the requirements of the law. (2)  

In 1999 active measures provisions concerning ethnic origin, religion and belief were introduced with the new Act on measures against ethnic discrimination in working life. The provisions were mandatory and could not be avoided through collective bargaining agreements, which was probably a result of the passivity of social partners during the previous decade. (3)

A study made by TNS Sifo in 2002 showed that about 40% of employers surveyed had a written plan on active measures concerning ethnicity and religion. The supervisory agency at the time (the Ombudsman against Ethnic Discrimination) ran a 4-month information campaign just after that study aiming at improving employers’ understanding of the provisions on active measures. However, the first monitoring efforts undertaken after the campaign showed that only 10% of the employers had written plans on active measures that were satisfactory. (4)

Both ethnic origin and religious affiliation are classified as sensitive data in Sweden which made some implementation aspects of the provisions less obvious from a practical point of view compared to sex/gender issues. However, that did not explain the 10% compliance rate. For instance, general data concerning birth place and birth place of parents are fairly easy to access through Statistics Sweden . Compiling such information and processing it with the necessary safeguards is not illegal. (5) Nevertheless, employers seemed to be very reluctant about processing information on ethnic origin or religious affiliation. Our conclusion is that the uncertainty regarding sensitive data has been used as an excuse to avoid undertaking active measures regarding ethnicity and religion or other belief. When it comes to a similarly vague provision on active measures regarding gender, these are carried out at about the same low rate even though statistical measurements are not considered to be “sensitive”.

Supervision or monitoring of ethnicity and religion oriented active measures, from a historical point of view, has followed the same patterns as is the case with gender. In both cases, different approaches have been adopted through the years, concentrating on certain geographical regions, certain industries or simply monitoring only certain provisions. Again, in both cases, there is more to this continuous change of strategies than just the ambition of finding more effective methods. It is very much about what has been described as the poor quality of active measures plans regardless of ground. It is also about the difficulties that supervisory agencies were encountering in taking the issue to the next level. Generally speaking, there is a built-in paradox in the way the active measures provisions are constructed and enforced.

On one hand, the provisions are vaguely formulated. There is very little help, if any at all, in the legal texts and in the preparatory works that would make a consensus possible on what measures are to be regarded as a minimum. For instance, there is the requirement of ensuring “that the working conditions are suitable for all employees” regardless of sex, ethnicity, religion or other belief”. The law is constructed with the Swedish traditions of collective bargaining agreements in mind. In other words, the provisions are vague, because the employer is expected to find the right measures in cooperation with the trade unions involved. At the same time, detailed provisions could prove to be too rigid for the purpose.

On the other hand, when the supervisory agency (DO – the Swedish Equality Ombudsman) is not satisfied with the pro-active work of a certain employer the DO has to take the case to the Board against Discrimination, where it is expected to explain in detail which exact measures it wants the Board to order the employer to undertake.

In other words, there is some sort of catch 22 logic in the way the active measures provisions are constructed. The requirements in the law are vague, while at the same time the Ombudsman, in asserting a violation of the provisions, must explain in detail which measures should be undertaken.

When the gender pay gap provisions were broadened to include the notion of “work of equal value” it was necessary to break down that notion into various parts in order to make the provision useful at all. The legal text then included four criteria for assessing “work of equal value”: knowledge, skills, responsibility and effort. This detailed information, no matter how vague it may seem at first glance, made the monitoring more interesting.

“The One Million Inspection” – a monitoring project aiming at inspecting pay gap issues for one million employees on the Swedish labor market, showed that when the provisions are more detailed, it is easier to monitor the pay gap and bring about changes. After the project was finished, pay adjustments worth about 72 million SEK (approx. 7 million Euros) were made. The pay analysis method prescribed by law that was introduced in 2001 led the social partners to concentrate more on clearly defined pay criteria. The monitoring efforts that were undertaken got the market moving. (6)

One conclusion drawn by some in the field from the Swedish model of active measures provisions is that detailed provisions – when possible – are necessary. With vague provisions, the law and the monitoring seem to function mainly as awareness raising tools.

The risk with this idea is that the focus becomes measures that are easy to formulate or analyze with statistics, and not necessarily real change indicating greater equality.

It is also highly likely that the sanctions and incentives related to monitoring of active measures have relied too heavily on the good will of employers and unions, rather than on sanctions which promote a more serious use of active measures in working life.

Sanctions and incentives – what leads to change?

What incentives are there for an organization to promote equal rights and opportunities? To comply with the Discrimination Act? To achieve policy objectives? Maybe to achieve higher profitability? Political correctness? Streamlining? To meet demands in the annual report? Or perhaps for moral, democratic or social reasons? Are there different motivators for the private sector as opposed to the public sector? The reasons that motivate an organization to promote equality will have an effect on how the issue of equality is approached and dealt with. 

Our experience is that organizations often say that compliance with the law or fulfillment of the government’s policy is their reason for promoting equality. Within the public sector the democratic argument is gaining ground, i.e. government authorities are increasingly realizing that they cannot fulfill their duty to provide public services to all citizens equally without considering non-discrimination in all activities. In this sense it will be interesting to follow up the policy adopted by the County Administrative Boards mentioned below.

Nevertheless some are of the opinion that gender mainstreaming is something different from mainstreaming of non-discrimination on all grounds, mainly due to the fact that it has its starting point in the governmental gender policy. However, we believe that isolating gender mainstreaming from other types instead has to do with ideological and/or historical reasons. These reasons basically reflect the hierarchy of discrimination grounds that has been established in Sweden – with gender at the top. As far as we are concerned, separating the grounds in this way will not lead to substantive equality on any of the grounds - including gender. A focus on gender alone usually misses the fact that women (and men) are the targets of discrimination related to other factors such as ethnicity, disability and sexual orientation, as well as the intersectionality of these grounds.

Similarly, separating legal provisions concerning active measures from other equality promotion measures does not serve the ultimate goal of achieving substantive equality.

The law by itself is not necessarily effective in promoting change. Change is dependent on the context or the factors involved. The law needs to be considered as one of several factors that can lead to social change in terms of greater equality. A common problem seems to be that many relevant actors look at legislation as being something separate from everyday life and policies. If policy initiatives and government orders/assignments within the area of human rights, mainstreaming, etc. were directly linked with the Discrimination Act and its purpose, it might become more obvious that effective promotion of equal rights and opportunities will lead to diversity.

The point is that in the end it does not matter what the incentives are (legislation, policy objectives, mainstreaming) when it comes to the long term goal - equal rights and opportunities for all. The starting points may differ, but in the long term the processes will converge into a focus on core issues related to equality if the organization is serious in its efforts.

At the end of the day we have to remember that it is the acts of individual human beings that have to be influenced and stimulated - both in their role as being possible discriminators and in their position as possible targets of discrimination.

Still, linking the provisions on non-discrimination and active measures, gender mainstreaming, mainstreaming on other grounds, work environment regulations, human rights, democracy, antidiscrimination clauses in public contracts etc. and dealing with all discrimination grounds as part of a whole will probably push the process towards equal rights and opportunities in a much more effective way. 

Thus far much of the focus in Sweden has been related to specific grounds, which in turn has often promoted an environment where discriminated groups are encouraged to compete with each other for the favours that may or may not be provided by policymakers. This at least seems to be what occurred in the relatively confusing and uneven development of the laws against discrimination in Sweden. A more comprehensive approach over the years would probably have led to greater combined pressure from different interests concerning compliance with the legal provisions related to active measures.

Some related areas

Though the legal provisions on active measures might not by themselves have led to clear improvements concerning the promotion of equality in working life, they could have had an effect in combination with other measures in a larger context. According to a study on active measures in legislation and collective bargaining agreements carried out by Lena Svenaeus (formerly the Equal Opportunities Ombudsman), one conclusion is that legislation has been a useful tool for pushing the equality process further. (7) Historically, the Swedish social partners (employers and unions) have opposed legislation on discrimination and are of the opinion that those questions are better dealt with within the existing system of collective bargaining. Contrary to the opinion of the social partners, the study shows that the most frequent clauses concerning active measures found in collective agreements involve the areas specified in the Discrimination Act.

Naturally, one can ask what the point of such agreements is, if the issue has already been determined by the law. The advantage is that incorporation of the issues into an agreement can mean that the union takes greater ownership of the issue – in other words the union becomes more involved in monitoring compliance. The union then has its own interest in the active measures. Above all, sanctions are more tangible given the occurrence of a breach of such an agreement. Another aspect is that the trade unions might generally push the equality question more diligently if the issue is included in their own system to a larger extent. In addition, the terms in an agreement can go further the minimum prescribed by law. There is a general opinion that the social partners do not regard the anti-discrimination laws to be a central issue within labour law. Thus trade unions have not been very active in the monitoring of active measures. At the same time, to the extent that the social partners involve these issues in the collective bargaining process, this can be seen as a form of mainstreaming equality into the labour market.

As a parallel outside the labour market, gender mainstreaming in the public sector is an area in which successive Swedish governments have invested political capital as well as financial resources. Even though mainstreaming has a focus on an organization’s activities other than its role as an employer, it can be an effective method for equality promotion on a broad basis within the organization. Equality in the role of carrying out of activities/delivery of services naturally has a connection to an organization’s role as an employer, and vice versa.

Concerning the public sector it is obvious that there has been a substantial increase in the number of women in middle management and higher. This is presumably the result of a combination of various factors such as political leadership, demographics and the law. It is also possible that the decreased prestige of public sector employment has played a role. At the same time, no studies indicate that positive treatment as defined by law has been a significant factor. The private sector in Sweden has not been affected in the same way. One indication here is that comparatively speaking Canada, in the private sector, has more women in positions of middle management and higher.

Apart from gender mainstreaming, various government initiatives have been taken to promote ethnic diversity. One required all government agencies to develop a diversity plan. Another required  some government agencies to develop anti-discrimination strategies concerning ethnicity, religion, disability and sexual orientation. The order concerning diversity plans was issued in 1999. This applied to all government agencies. Several years later it turned out that many agencies had not understood that they were required to have a diversity plan at all. And many of those that did, were unsure about what such plans were to cover. However, these same agencies often referred to these plans when they were subjected to monitoring of their compliance with the law concerning active measures related to ethnic and religious equality. These types of plans seldom had any relation to the legal requirements that applied.   

The ineffectiveness of the government’s order concerning ethnic diversity plans was summarized in a 2005 government inquiry entitled The Blue and Yellow Glass House: Structural Discrimination in Sweden. (8) This inquiry also proposed the issuance of a government regulation requiring equality promotion plans in all government agencies. These were to cover all grounds and the scope was to include all of their functions, ie their roles as employers as well as service providers, rule-makers and public contractors.  However, this proposal was not adopted. It instead resulted in orders requiring a number of key government agencies to develop and implement anti-discrimination strategies covering ethnicity, religion or other belief, disability and sexual orientation.

Although the results have thus far been unclear, an interesting good practice currently under development is the joint action plan to promote equal rights and opportunities recently adopted by all of the County Administrative Boards in Sweden. The plan includes all grounds of discrimination specified in the Discrimination Act, and as compared to gender mainstreaming the plan has an integrated employer and service provider perspective. The overall result is a plan that includes active measures related to their role as an employer as prescribed by law as well as measures related to their role as a service provider. This is the result of the government’s order, even though the order was not formulated in this “all-inclusive” manner.

Another related measure is the regulation requiring the use of anti-discrimination clauses in all of the larger public contracts for services of the 30 largest government agencies. (9) If these clauses indicate that companies risk losing their contracts if they violate the anti-discrimination clause, it is likely that the companies will act proactively to ensure at least minimal compliance with the law’s requirements concerning active measures. This may be important given the apparent failure of many to comply with the requirements concerning gender equality plans and other active measures mentioned above. 

There are various questions yet to be answered. What kinds of clauses have been included? What are the sanctions in relation to the contracting agency if it fails to include such clauses, includes meaningless clauses or fails to follow-up implementation in any meaningful manner?

Final comments

Discrimination has to do with the use of power in society. It has to do with the unequal treatment of persons due to irrelevant factors such as sex, ethnicity, religion, disability or sexual orientation. Those who discriminate are not necessarily aware of their own prejudices. Naturally, everyone has prejudices, particularly underlying prejudices which may have little to do with a conscious ideology. They are nevertheless a product of their particular society’s prejudices, history, sexism, racism, self-image and denial. These factors form the structure in a society and in particular those with power in society. Power is the key issue related to discrimination. Employers and landlords may have the same underlying prejudices as the people that are applying for jobs or housing, but the difference is that they have the power to deny or grant jobs or housing based on their open or underlying prejudices.

It is also important to note that discrimination leads to both unfavourable as well as favourable treatment of men and women, the more and less abled, heterosexuals and homosexuals, “immigrants” and “Swedes”. Some people are discriminated against, some receive positive treatment. This means that privileges are provided to persons who represent the norms in society – quite often in terms of sex, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation and functional level. To change this something more is often needed other than education and a reliance on the good will of those with power in society.

In the introduction we talked about the need for active measures to promote a faster development of a situation that breaks down these patterns.

Policymakers, civil servants, employers, employees and in particular discriminated groups need to consider more effectively the sanctions and incentives that are needed to change these patterns.

One basic idea is that if discrimination costs enough, or the risks are high enough, a potential discriminator can change his or her behavior.

Thus, in Sweden, within the framework of the law we need to determine if the sanctions in the law can be strengthened so that provisions on active measures are more detailed, if active measures could be increased to correspond to all prohibitions in the Act, or if the Board against Discrimination can be given a more effective role or if the Equality Ombudsman should instead be given broader powers to issue fines as a result of non-compliance.

We also need to understand that the private sector in particular is affected by costs and/or potential cost risks. Presumably a major reason that Canadian and US companies show more concern for diversity compared to their European counterparts, is that discrimination and the failure to take active measures carry with them significant cost risks. Since these risks can affect profits, the interest of the leadership in companies is greater. Quite possibly, this makes it easier for management to understand and implement the “business” case for diversity.

Sweden needs to more thoroughly examine and evaluate related measures that are intended to contribute to promotion of equality. Those actors who are interested in actual implementation need to examine the introduction of sanctions/incentives into mainstreaming of various types. Equality promotion is often claimed to be a public sector priority, yet a failure to act is seldom sanctioned. For example, if the heads of agencies were put on notice that their ability to counteract discrimination and promote equality will be one factor in their salary development and/or retention of their jobs, this will presumably lead to more effective leadership in implementation of equality policies. Beginning at the top in this manner would ensure that the hierarchy is put on notice concerning the importance of equality within the agency. All too often, responsibility for the implementation of well-meaning policies is put in the hands of mid-level civil servants who have little or no influence unless the head of the agency is supporting the efforts. We need to ensure that the stairs will be cleaned from the top.



(1) JämOs Testamente – a short report on monitoring carried out by the Equal Opportunities Ombudsman (gender) during 29 years (2008). Unpublished report (in Swedish only).

(2) JämO. Jämställdhetplanen: Hur fungerar jämställdhetsarbetet i praktiken? (Gender Equality Plans: How does gender equality work function in practice?) 2005 p. 18.

(3) See for instance the preparatory works: Proposition 1990/91:113, A new Equal Opportunities Act, p. 61.

(4) Monitoring by the Ombudsman against Ethnic Discrimination (2008). Unpublished report (in Swedish only).

(5) The safeguards are prescribed by the Swedish Data Inspection Board. Safeguards for processing sensitive information do not seem to be a new or problematic area. For further information see study by the Council of Europe: P. Simon (2007): “Ethnic” statistics and data protection in the Council of Europe countries - Study Report.

(6) JämO. Miljongranskningen: Resultat av etapp 2 och slutrapport (2008)  (The one million inspection – the results of phase 2 and final report). 

(7) Svenaeus, L.: A legal study on active measures for equal rights and opportunities in law and collective bargaining. Unpublished report, in Swedish only (2008).

(8) Det blågula glashuset: strukturell diskriminering I Sverige (SOU 2005:56) (The Blue and Yellow Glass House: Structural Discrimination in Sweden. English summary p 41-60). Also see Paul Lappalainen and Marcus Lundgren: Diskriminering dröjer kvar DEL II (2007) -  (Discrimination remains Part II).

(9) Förordning (2006:260): om antidiskrimineringsvillkor i upphandlingskontrakt

Bild entfernt.

Paul Lappalainen currently Head of Equality Promotion with the Swedish Equality Ombudsman. Yamam Al-Zubaidi and Paula Jonsson, also with the Ombudsman, have many years experience working with active measures.