Why are Danes so Weird?

Expats are tired of being the odd ones out at Danish workplaces, says Director and Founding Partner at Living Institute Heidi Rottbøll Andersen.

Even though a majority of Danish respondents in a new survey conducted by Epinion on behalf of the Confederation of Danish Industry (DI) believe that their foreign colleagues have settled in well, that is not necessarily the case, says Founding Partner and Director at Living Institute Heidi Rottbøll Andersen, who has been advising companies about how to make Danish workplace culture, norms and foreign employees to go hand-in-hand since 2004.

“We Danes have certain blind spots.
We think it’s nicer to be here than is actually the case for many foreigners,”
says Heidi Rottbøll Andersen.

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Women in top management should advance by quotas, male networks and by breaking norms

Even though the debate on having more women at the top has been going on for years – it still looks pretty bad. LIVING INSTITUTE’s report on gender balance in the Danish finance sector points to a need for a series of solutions.

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Base your diversity strategy on data

Data is the solution to why so many diversity campaigns have failed. Most companies know their numbers but only few know what’s behind the numbers. Why does it look that way? Who has easy access to management positions – and who don’t? Who feel they belong in the organization – and who don’t? Who feel they are valued and noticed? Who can see the talents and who are blind to them if they don’t look themselves? An inclusion survey gives all the answers.

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Data is crucial when working with diversity

Many companies are working on enhancing diversity and inclusion in their organization. Female networks, workshops, mentor programs have been some of the initiatives to enhance the number of women in top management.
However the consultancy LIVING INSTITUTE have through inclusion surveys and a new platform for analysis collected new data which has resulted in a stronger focus on mobilizing men. New data driven knowledge has been a crucial element in this transformation.

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A leader? That’s a guy in a suit

When we close our eyes and imagine how a leader looks – we see a man. That is an unconscious bias and that is a decisive barrier to women’s career in business. Information (the newspaper) has visited LIVING INSTITUTE’s 5 days D&I Master Class for HR professionals appointed to create a more inclusive culture in their companies. And the name of the game, the instructor explains, is that the more idiotically simple it sounds, the better it is. 

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5 ways to break down silos

Breaking down organisational silos is wishful thinking in companies with an ambition to make better business results through a collaborative and inclusive working culture.

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Remember your good manners: Polish your shoes and hold the door

We think we are polite in Denmark – but on the other side of the borders they are not so sure

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Closing the gender gap in the music industry

Read about the workshop aimed at finding new solutions to closing the gender gap in the music industry promoted by JazzDanmark and the Danish Composers´Society, facilitated by LIVING INSTITUTE’s chief consultant and founder, Heidi Rottbøll Andersen.

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Gender Equality Improves Your Bottom Line

There are economic upsides when both genders are taking part in the decision making processes. However Denmark is at the bottom in terms of women in top positions. It’s a waste of talent, says Heidi Rottbøll Andersen, working to create gender balance at the top of some of the world’s largest companies

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News archive

“Danish Work Culture: Shepherding Cats”

“Managing Danes is like herding cats!” laughs Heidi Rottbøll Andersen. Not her own words, but those of an American manager who, baffled at the attitude of the Danes he was supposed to manage, asked her for help. The Danish working culture code can be hard to crack

In 2004, Heidi Rottbøll Andersen founded The Living Institute, a consulting and training company aimed at helping companies in Denmark with practical ways of tackling cultural differences in the work place.

Diversity is the key word: an open eye and a practical mind, the company is mostly engaged with expats coming to work in Denmark, and to a lesser degree, also involved with Danes returning home. Apart from the consulting business, The Living Institute offers crash courses to freshly arrived foreigners and their partners. “So you can share you Danish experiences with each other,” says Heidi. The Living Institute has developed the much-acclaimed presentation: Why are Danes so Weird?

Read the article in Your Danish Life – the expat Magazine (in English) >>

Heid Rottbøll Andersen

Danish Chamber of Commerce Magazine, June 3rd 2015:

“Converting culture to cash”

What to do if your diverse team of highly specialized employees with different nationalities lack intercultural competencies?

The solution is cultural intelligence according to Heidi Rottbølll Andersen, Chief consultant and founder of LIVING INSTITUTE. For 11 years she and her team has infused cultural intelligence into more than 250 companies world wide.

Read the article in Danish Chamber of Commerce Magazine (in Danish) >>

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Business Traveller, March 2015: 

“The Importance of ‘Diversity”

Both gender and cultural intelligence are absolutely key for a successful company.
In this interview for Business Traveller, LIVING INSTITUTE’s founder Heidi Rottbøll Andersen digs into interesting facts and examples, highlighting the importance of these issues.

Read the article (in Danish)
here >>

Reduceret TV2 Lorry

TV2 Lorry:

How could Cultural Intelligence have helped LEGO’s CEO and Lars von Trier?

Danes often come across as a bit insensitive if you ask Non Danes – but does it matter?

Watch the interview with Heidi Rottbøll Andersen, LIVING INSTITUTE’s founder who talks about what Non-Danes see when they interact with Danes.
TV2 Lorry March 30th 2015 (in Danish) 9 min>>

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Skærmbillede 2015-02-26 kl. 19.53.37

Denmark’s Radio ‘P1 Eftermiddag’:

Danes are impolite … according to Non-Danes.

Blind spots: Are Danes impolite or is it just tribal tendencies playing out?
Is it true that Danes do not suffer from fear of getting laughed at (gelotophobia) which can bring them into odd situations and sometimes even jeopardizing their global activities.

Listen to Denmark’s Radio P1 Eftermiddag where Heidi Rottbøll Andersen, LIVING INSTITUTE’s founder talks about what Non-Danes see when they interact with Danes.
Denmarks Radio P1 Eftermiddag, February 2015 (in Danish) 10 min. >>

Heidi Rottbøll Andersen_DJØF

“Diversity can make you rich”

“Make sure you have the right mix of different people in your organization; gender, cultural background, age etc. And above all – make sure you have an inclusive culture.”
Interview with Heidi Rottbøll Andersen, Founding Partner, LIVING INSTITUTE
Read the article in DJØF-bladet #13 August 29th 2014 ‘Der er mammon i mangfoldighed’ here (in Danish) >>

TV2 News April 23rd 2014 

“The Power of Diversity”

Heidi Rottbøll Andersen talks about the power of diversity.
TV2 NEWS 23rd of April 2014. See the interview here (in Danish): >> 

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Research shows that diversity is a strong competitive parameter…. when handled properly.
Børsen 23rd of April 2014.
Click here to read the full article (in Danish) >>

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Heidi Rottbøll Andersen discusses whether or not it is correct to call Denmark a Christian country.

Kristelig Dagligblad 25th of April 2014.
Click here to read the full article (in Danish) >>


Why are danes so weird?
Talk at by Nivedita Eskesen, Consultant LIVING INSTITUTE, at the event arranged by PhD Association at the Faculty of Health at Aarhus University on October 8th. The cultural encounter (or conflict) between Danish and international researchers was on the agenda at a seminar on internationalisation entitled “Researchers without Borders”, organised by the PhD Association at the Faculty of Health.
Omnibus October 8th 2013
Click here and read the article >>


Working abroad: prepare your assignment abroad
“A posting abroad is a fantastic experience. If you get the opportunity, you have to do it. But be realistic, not everything is rosy”, says Heidi Rottbøll Andersen, Director of LIVING INSTITUTE, offering cultural training to companies posting employees abroad.
InBusiness, March 1st 2013
Click here to read the article (in Danish) >>

Career nomades won’t play with us
We need to stop seeing it as a failure or unrequited love if foreigners leave us after seven good years in the country, but we all have a responsibility to ensure that they stay longer than two years.
Berlingske, October 14th 2012
Click here to read the article (in Danish) >>

Spouses of highly educated people find it difficult to adapt
Unhappy spouses are often the reason why highly educated foreigners leave Copenhagen. This is evidenced in a study by Johanne Mygind, senior researcher in LIVING INSTITUTE RESEARCH made in collaboration with Copenhagen Economics.
Politiken, August 13th 2012
Click here to read the article (in Danish) >>

Highly educated foreigners drop copenhagen according to a new analysis by living institute research
Denmark loses billions in tax revenue and important job growth because the Danish capital has difficulties attracting high-skilled foreigners. Copenhagen is doing significantly worse than cold Stockholm, rainy Dublin and anonymous Stuttgart, as an analysis by LIVING INSTITUTE RESEARCH along with Copenhagen Economics has shown. Read the article on News about what it means for the Capital Region that we can not attract enough highly skilled foreigners
Read the report here (in Danish) >> Nyhederne, August 13th 2012
Click here to read the article (in Danish
See more on Reglab’s site here >>

Chinese-danish cultural understanding
Only when knowledge of the two cultures is combined, we can build a bridge and get the best out of diversity”, says Klaus Schröder Pagh, CEO in LIVING INSTITUTE, in an article about how we help our clients to build bridges between Danish and Chinese culture., August 2012
Click here to read the article (in Danish) >>

Cultural intelligence and global retail?

Yes – there is a strong interconnection between the two. Read about LIVING INSTITUTE’s mission on infusing cultural intelligence into global retail.
‘Detail on Retail’
Click here to read the article that proves this right >>

Article about LIVING INSTITUTE’s work with Danish companies in India – Intercultural team-building sessions.

Rambøll in India: ‘Bridging the gap between cultures is a long haul’

“The Indian engineers have to know that in Denmark you get rewarded when you point out when something is wrong.” says Heidi Rottbøll Andersen, owner of LIVING INSTITUTE, which has organised workshops about intercultural teamcollaboration between Indian and European teams for Danish companies in Chennai and Surat in India.
Ingeniøren, May 26th 2012
Click here to read the article (in Danish) >>

Article about LIVING INSTITUTE’s after-work event ‘Leading Diversity – Effective Leadership Across Cultures’:

Cultural knowledge gives better results

There are great opportunities in international management, there are just too few who actually do something about it. Modern, international leaders should dare to bring themselves into play, says the British expert, Michael Green, who was in Copenhagen recently.
Berlingske Business, May 9th 2012
Click here to read the article (in Danish) >>
Read about the after-work event ‘Leading Diversity – Effective Leadership Across Cultures’ here >>


Companies in cultural training ‘camp’

Doing Business in JapanCultural awareness plays a major role in Danish companies’ cooperation with foreign partners

When a Danish company is going to a meeting in Japan, it’s nice to know that the Japanese rarely make use of lawyers, but make oral agreements where a word is a word…” Read the article about LIVING INSTITUTE’s work to equip ALK Abelló’s employees and management to work with their new Japanese partners.

Politiken, May 21st 2011
Click here to read the article (in Danish) >>
Click here to read more about LIVING INSTITUTE’s Country Specific Training programs >>



Succeeding abroad

Every third Danish expatriate does not return to his/her job in Denmark after posting, but gets a taste for life abroad. If a job abroad should be successful, it requires, however, that you as a couple agree on the conditions. Jyllands-Posten, April 2nd 2008
Click here to read the article (in Danish) >>

Foreign labour is given the cold shoulder in denmark

Danish companies are screaming for labour, preferably from abroad. But during their free time foreigners are often given the cold shoulder – and then they are likely to leave again. It is expensive for the companies and also for Denmark in the longer run. See videoclip and interviews from LIVING INSTITUTE’s Danish Living Crash Courses for foreign knowledge workers – the courses help to retain the wanted foreign employees.
Penge on DR1, January 16th 2008
Click here to see the entire broadcast >>
Read more about LIVING INSTITUTE’s Danish Living Crash Courses for foreign employees and their spouses here >>

Article about LIVING INSTITUTE’s Danish Living Crash Courses for foreign employees in Denmark:

Culture matters

“A crash course on life in Denmark is a great help in avoiding the confusion that can accompany relocation…” Copenhagen Post, October 25th 2007
Click here to read the article >>

Key employees on “frikadelle” course

“International staff coming to Denmark to work, need a course in “frikadeller” (meatballs), family life and the Danish management style…” Jyllands-Posten April 11th 2007
Click here to read the article (in Danish) >>

Speed course in “danishness”

Article about our courses where we learn foreign knowledge workers to cope with the Danes, so that they may as soon as possible settle in their new Danish jobs. Ingeniøren, February 16th 2007
Click here to read the article (in Danish) >>

We need to appreciate people like prince henrik

A study shows, that even highly educated and well-travelled Danes are bad at including foreign colleagues. We must learn to appreciate the background conscious foreigners as Prince Henrik rather than the integration eager Alexandra, expert says… Read the article where Heidi Rottbøll Andersen, Director of LIVING INSTITUTE chastises our ability to accommodate even small cultural differences.
Information, January 23rd 2007
Click here to read the article (in Danish) >>
Read more about Heidi Rottbøll Andersen here >>

Immigration policy is poison to danish growth

Contribution to the debate by Heidi Rottbøll Andersen, Director of LIVING INSTITUTE.
Børsen, October 19th 2005
Click here to read the post (in Danish) >>

Expats need help

“If we have the ambition to become a knowledge society, we must find out how we attract knowledge workers and retain them. In this context money is not enough” says Heidi Rottbøll Andersen, Director of LIVING INSTITUTE. Jyllands-Posten, May 11th 2005
Click here to read the article (in Danish) >>

Real knowledge cannot be bought for money

Contribution to the debate by Heidi Rottbøll Andersen, Director of LIVING INSTITUTE.
Børsen, March 3rd 2005
Click here to read the post (in Danish) >>