A meeting of Open Minds

When a group of Japanese business leaders visited Telenor recently, Telenor’s Open Mind program shared their learnings working with diversity and inclusion.

Written: Oct 2019

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Telenor’s Open Mind program has been running for more than 20 years. Its purpose has been to provide participants an opportunity to get valuable experience that will strengthen their chances to gain access to working life, through relevant work practice and training. Recently, a delegation of business leaders from several large Japanese companies and organisations visited Norway with the aim to learn more about and how Norwegian business and society works with inclusion and diversity.

Telenor Group’s headquarters at Fornebu was one stop on their itinerary where the delegation was welcomed by Ingrid A. Ihme, director of Open Mind. Two of the program’s former participants, explained how the Open Mind program has helped them find permanent jobs.

A true win-win-win story

During the session, the visitors from Japan got presented how Open Mind is a true win-win-win story: Telenor gets access to relevant competencies, participants get into positions in the labour market through competence building and actual work experience and the latter: society gets value by active tax payers (from welfare to work).

Former Open Mind participants, Christian Haugen-Flermoe and Papitha Sekar, shared insights about the barriers they had met when attempting to find work. Despite differing backgrounds and experiences, both shared stories that reflected the challenges of being on the fringes of the labour market and the struggle to secure much-needed experience. After qualifying for the Open Mind program and completing the year of education and training, Christian have managed to secure positions as Community Manager in Telenor Mobile, while Papitha is still in worktraining as an Data Analyst in Telenor Research.

Conversations about inclusion

Members of the delegation were eager to know more about the co-operative and voluntary nature of inclusion policies in Norway. Especially, delegates wanted to know more about the recruitment process, and they got to address their questions to the representatives of Telenor and Open Mind, which resulted in interesting discussions around these topics.

The business leaders came from large Japanese companies, among others Sumitomo, MIRAIT Holdings Corporation, NTT and Tokyo Gas Co. Ltd., and were representing a wide part of Japanese businesses. Japanese society has challenges in a declining and ageing population. And the delegation was open about the societal challenges Japan is facing, and that willingness to explore new avenues expand the workforce should be considered as possible solutions. The senior corporate representatives where curious and open to that individual companies would have to consider tailor-made programs such as Telenor Open Mind, in order to stay competitive in the future.

The Open Mind program continues in Telenor, and around these days 10 new participants with various backgrounds are onboarding the program. For the next year they will get relevant experience and job training, for hopefully after completing the program being able to get permanent jobs and to get a new start in their work life.

Read more about Open Mind here

This is Open Mind

  • A Telenor initiative for inclusion and diversity since 1996
  • The objective is to give participants an opportunity to get valuable experience that will strengthen their chances to gain access to working life
  • The program consists of an initial period of 2 months with computer training, project management and coaching courses, after this, participants work 10 months for Telenor.
  • Job training is adjusted to candidates’ educational background, competence, and work experience.