Press (in English)
Equality the new big thing, again
Equality has become a hot topic in Sweden again, with new ways of mobilizing thousands of people for a more fair world. In its first ten months Rättviseförmedlingen (Equalisters) gathered a network of over 21,000 people across Sweden and globally. Today more than 38,000 people have joined Equalisters. Awards and nominations have practically rained over the initiative that has its own “positive, practical and tolerant” take on breaking destructive norms in society that so often limit the possibilities available to us based on superficial things like our gender, ethnicity, age, nationality or physical abilities.
There is a simple genius idea behind Equalisters, which makes it so effective. Organizations, companies and media actors who feel like they have a limited network within certain areas, for example if their contact list of copywriters contains mostly men, they can make a call for suggestions in a network that is much greater than their own and they get to tap into a network of 35,000 people– and since anyone can leave comments, the suggestions usually start coming in right away. After some days, a nice list is assembled and publicly posted on the main website, creating a live feed of broadened networks, available for anyone to make use of.
Lina Thomsgård is the person behind the initiative, which followed from a discussion with a bartender at a Stockholm club that kept on using only DJ’s that were men, mostly playing male artists. “There just aren’t any women DJ’s” was his comment. Two days later, on a Monday, Equalisters was launched during a coffee break. Around 200 people joined on the first day, and began instantly to contribute to a list of a hundred women DJ’s to present to the bartender.
“I am pretty quick at going from words to action. I am erratic, angry and optimistic. I get angry when things in the world are not the way I want them to be, but I believe that a lot can be changed,” says Lina.
The purpose of Equalisters is to help find people from outside the given norm. In the beginning it was a bit more punk, but now it’s a registered non-profit organization, and as Lina says: “we’re almost an institution. There’s an immense level of trust to foster. Those who turn to us are primarily media looking for interviewees, but oftentimes also government agencies, museums, and universities looking for lecturers and moderators.”
Equalisters is on the verge of replicating the model and significantly expanding the impact of the project. There is a growing international recognition and interest, with people in New York, London, Oslo, Berlin, Brussels and other places eager to get involved. The idea is to continue to grow and make a difference in Sweden where it started, but also to continue to make a greater difference in the world, using the same model in other countries, and building from local involvement to mobilize their support.
Article DN.se Nov, 2010
An open network against monoculture
(Published on dn.se 2010-11-24)
This spring Lina Thomsgård (32) started the Facebook group Rättviseförmedlingen (Equalisters in English). You can turn to them if you’re looking for interviewees, panelists or speakers who don’t represent the norm in society. Lina believes that there is a monoculture and she wants to work against it.
“We have to let all different types of people get their voices heard, says Lina. I have often asked myself why it’s almost only women who get to represent parenthood on panels when half of all parents are men. And a person in a wheelchair doesn’t necessarily only have to have opinions on issues regarding disability.”
Within merely an hour of starting the group, it had 200 members, and today, eight months later, there are over 20,000 people supporting Equalisters.
Lina, who herself works in media, knows that there is a great need of the type of contacts that Equalisters gathers. Every so often she posts up new searches. Right now she is working on a search for women mechanics who can talk about cars on the radio. It’s all about creating fusions between the members’ different social contacts and networks.
“We have members who conduct their own searches, who suggest every day, who search their own networks. We have those who suggest every now and then. My philosophy is based on people wanting to help out. People want to be a part of creating–if that wasn’t the case, we wouldn’t have any roads or houses,” imagines Lina.
The members are made up of everyone from “old men” to corporate executives and angry teenagers. The size and mix is the major strength, what creates the explosive force.
“The more who want to hop on the train, the better. Hop on and we’ll all help out in driving it forward, says Lina. If you have a vision of changing what you think is wrong and want to get in touch with others who want the same thing, the internet is a fantastic arena. There is an incredible infrastructure.”
Lina has previous experience of working with networking in social media. For many years she worked in PR and used the internet for social marketing. Word of mouth is important to spread messages.
“Internet is not only a place where people are mean to each other behind secret aliases. It is just as much a place where people help each other out.”
But Lina’s work with Equalisters is also a lot about her own search for freedom and creativity. Not being confined by the prejudice from your surroundings is important to her.
“To me Equalisters is about being free and able to do what I want. To use the inspiration that comes from meetings. “Monoculture doesn’t give birth to new ideas,” says Lina Thomsgård.
By Lotten Wiklund
(Translated by Ola Nilsson for Equalisters)
Press Release December 16, 2010
PRESS RELEASE Thursday, December 16, 2010.
On the evening of Thursday, December 16, Lina Thomsgård will be officially awarded for being one of the three rowdiest women in Sweden. Her rowdy achievements this year are topped by founding a movement to get rid of inequalities in representation within media, culture and business, utilizing social networks and a positive approach. The yearly award is handed out byPassion for Business, a part of the media network Nyheter24.
Lina Thomsgård started Rättviseförmedlingen (Equalisters) in March this year. In its first ten months, Equalisters has built a movement of over 21,000 people across Sweden and the world. Public recognition has been instantaneous for this viral initiative, with its very own “positive, practical and tolerant” take on breaking down the norms in society that so often make representation, for example in the media, unnecessarily unbalanced. The initiative has won several nominations and awards throughout the year.
The purpose of Equalisters is to help find people outside of the given norm. Anyone can ask for and leave recommendations of people who are not the most typical for their context, or who are of an underrepresented group or gender. That way we actually help organzations get more diverse contact networks, and we contribute to a more equal society, says Lina Thomsgård, founder of the non-profit organization.
The rowdy move of starting what is now an online movement for equality, was motivated by a regular saturday night at one of the many Stockholm night clubs where guys play records made by other guys. When she asked a manager why they never featured women dj’s, he answered that there simply were none to come by. A promise was made to get him a list of 100 women dj’s. Two days later, at 10 am on monday morning, Equalisters started on Facebook, with over 200 people joining on the first day, contributing with their own recommendations of people. Lina managed to keep her promise with an impressive list of alternatives from an underrepresented group.
I am erratic, angry and optimistic at the same time. I get angry when things in the world are not the way I want them to be, but I believe that a lot can be changed. Just ten months into it, I can already see a difference. My optimism builds on a belief that people want to help out. In the beginning we were a bit more punk, now we are almost an institution, says Lina.
Since early march Equalisters has produced hundreds of searches for people who are not the most typical for their context, from female comedians to speakers on feminism and gender who are not women. Searches come from a broad variety of actors; from magazines looking for interviewees, to museums looking for speakers, or companies looking for panelists.
Photo: Jezzica Sunmo
Lina Thomsgård, founder Equalisters, firstname.lastname@example.org
Ola Nilsson, international coordinator Equalisters, email@example.com
Press image Lina: Photo Jezzica Sunmo
Press clips: on facebook
More on the award: Sweden’s Rowdiest Women
More on Lina: on FRAU.se
Rättviseförmedlingen (Equalisters) helps organisations, companies or projects to find alternatives that are outside the norm for example when trying to find artists, copywriters, directors, comedians and DJs. The vision is a society where people are not defined and constrained by their gender, origin, physical ability, age or any other worldly attributes that often tend to (wrongly) define who we are and what we get to do and take part of in society.www.rattviseformedlingen.se;www.facebook.com/rattviseformedlingen
Article Shortcut.nu October, 2010
(Article translated by Ola Nilsson from www.shortcut.nu . Photo: Jezzica Sunmo)
Professionally she is a PR consultant with her own firm Frau, which represents Robyn amongst others. Besides that she DJ’s with Chapel hill crew. But her greatest success this year lies in her latest project: the non-profit organization Rättviseförmedlingen (Equalisters).
Through Equalisters, anyone request and provide recommendations of people who are not the most typical for their context, or who are of an underrepresented group or gender. At the moment, the group has over 20,000 followers on Facebook. Here are Lina’s own words on Rättviseförmedlingen and how it happened, and a little about her career in general:
“With me, it’s a lot of action, but I guess there’s a lot of words as well. But I am pretty quick at going from words to action. I am erratic, angry and optimistic. I get angry when things in the world are not the way I want them to be, but I believe that a lot can be changed.
Equalisters was born after a regular Saturday night out. I was at one of the many night clubs where guys play music made by other guys. When I asked why they never had any women DJs the bartender answered “there are none”. I promised him right then and there to get him a list of 100 women DJs by Monday. At 10 am that Monday Equalisters started on Facebook, where I posted a search for women DJs. I managed to keep my promise and give him my list! Today, eight months later, when I look at who plays records at the same clubs, the gender imbalance is not as great. My optimism builds on a belief that people want to help make change.
When I started my own PR-firm a year ago I was afraid of going out there and competing with others. So I pulled together eight other people and started “frilansbärka” (literally Freelance Beer) on Facebook. Today there are 600 of us. Freelance Beer targets freelancers of any kind, from car washers and pop stars to writers, photographers and people who run cafés. You help each other out with everything: filling in tax forms, suggesting accountants, office spaces, and clients. So it’s a year since I became my own boss and it’s been the best year of my life.
Equalisters is a job, a hobby and a vital social effort. I am also the PR manager for Robyn’s record company. It is such a luxury to have two completely different projects that both fit me like a glove. Aside from that I have two or three minor projects every month. Either I DJ, help a political party, lecture at the Norrbotten Chamber of Commerce or something like that.
The purpose of Equalisters is to help find people outside of the given norm. In the beginning we were a bit more punk, and now we are almost an institution. There’s an immense level of trust to foster. Those who turn to us are primarily media looking for interviewees, but oftentimes also government agencies, museums and universities looking for lecturers and moderators. I work for free with Equalisters. Sometimes I am tired. Then I go in and have a look at all those people who have joined the group, from ministers to angry teenagers. It’s awesome to have been a part of creating that kind of a community. The first day we were 200 people, today we are more than 20,000.”
Lives: in Stockholm
Occupations: Runs the PR- and Communications firm Frau where Robyn is the largest client. Started Equalisters (Rättviseförmedlingen), which helps media and other actors broaden their representation of people in different contexts.
More occupations: Is a DJ and has formerly worked as PR-manager at EMI and Myspace Nordic.