Making sure both women and men have the resources they need to succeed in the workplace is a major goal of Andri Kristinsson, CEO and co-founder of curated travel guides called Travelade, based in Iceland.
“I believe that an equal and diverse office culture is crucial, in relation not only to gender, but also to age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, language, education, and abilities,” he said. “A well-balanced workplace can have a positive effect on the entire organization. Beyond being fair, equality and diversity in the workplace also foster the sharing of different perspectives and opinions, which can help spark creativity and innovation and inevitably boost employee engagement.”
At Travelade, equality is tantamount to workplace culture. The company implements equal pay, equal parental leave, and strict policies against harassment and workplace offenses, he said. “In short, we believe that an engaging office environment is the main key to success, but without diversity and equality, there would be no passion or creativity, and, as a result, no Travelade,” he added.
Flexible working arrangements are a pillar of the company. For example, Kristinsson took parental leave and time off with his 1-year-old son. “If this had not been the case, I definitely would not have gotten to spend as much time caring for him and getting to know him, and as such, wouldn’t have gotten to contribute to his upbringing in equal amounts as my partner,” he said.
More widely, the company takes advantage of work-life balance initiatives such as doing activities outdoors and being active together. This past summer, the team went on an impromptu whale watching trip.
Like many people in Iceland, Kristinsson believes the United States could learn from the country’s maternal and paternal leave policies. “In Iceland, it’s not frowned upon if parents decide to take up to a year off work to take care of their newborn,” he said. “Iceland was one of the first countries to introduce such equal parental leave, even ahead of Sweden and Norway.”
For some in Iceland, moving away and returning reminded them about what the country offers in terms of gender parity. Linda Mjöll Stefánsdóttir traveled back and forth between Iceland and London for several years before deciding to settle back down in her native country. She opened up accommodations made from upcycled buses and materials so that visitors can connect to the land. She says visitors often include very strong-willed women who are independent.
For Stefánsdóttir, the arrangement allows her to be her own boss while also allowing visitors to connect to the land.
“I always missed Iceland,” she said. “It never stopped singing in my heart.”
This reporting trip was created with support by the Tulsa Artist Fellowship. Created by the George Kaiser Family Foundation, Tulsa Artist Fellowship supports both local and national artists while enriching the Tulsa community.