Pia Rudolfsson Goyer is a fantastic example of a woman with a spectacular career, a healthy family, and a beautiful personality. Currently, Pia runs her own consulting company and contributes to the Norwegian Forum of Responsible Investment (NORSIF).
By: Aleksandra Ponomareva, Economics and Management.
Aleksandra: You’re a very experienced, strong, and smart woman, but also seem well-balanced and calm. I’m amazed by you and find it hard to understand how you manage your life whilst embodying these enviable qualities.
Pia: Wow! This is very flattering. I don’t think it’s a big mystery, I just enjoy spreading the word that companies also have an important role to play in respecting human rights and sharing my knowledge about this. Human rights is an important area that people should know more about and if you want to create change you must not yell your message or have a hostile approach. The best way is often to be friendly and contribute with your knowledge and perhaps even provide creative solutions
Aleksandra: Speaking about your career: You had a fantastic start, and then you had a significant shift. You worked as a secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Sweden and had an exciting position there in the legal department. Nevertheless, you decided to come to Oslo. Why?
Pia: I started my career at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Stockholm as a secretary and assistant, and then I went to law school. Every summer during my my summer holidays, I went back and worked at the Ministry. Each year I got a higher and higher position, and more and more responsibility. When I then finished law school, I returned to the Ministry. I worked there as a first secretary, which gave me the opportunity to take part in different meetings and commissions on human rights at the United Nations. For this reason, I spent a couple of weeks in Geneva and New York each year. These were exciting times. I moved to Norway because in 1995 I met a Norwegian man at an EU summer course in Brugge, Belgium. He lived in Oslo, I was in Stockholm, and we met every second week for two years. When we decided that one of us had to move, I felt ready to move on and left Stockholm.
Aleksandra: Once you moved to Oslo, you started work as a secretary for the University of Oslo.
Pia: Yes, I was at the Center of Human Rights for nine years. I started as a secretary because as a foreigner it was hard for me to get a job comparable to the one I had left in Stockholm. After working there for a couple of months, the centre got a pilot project from Equinor (then called Statoil), in which they asked the center to participate in a large project in Azerbaijan. They needed an expert in human rights and I was available. This project turned out to be a turning point for me and was very exciting despite the fact that it was a desk study. This was in 1998 – the era before Google – and everything was done from Oslo. We used different libraries and sent e-mails in order to get access to the information we needed. During my years at the centre, I worked as a researcher on different projects and in 2007 I applied for a position at the secretariat of the Council on Ethics for the Government Pension Fund, and got the job. I worked for the Council for 12 years.
Aleksandra: What does it mean to work for the Norwegian Pension Fund?
Pia: The Council consists of five people and has a secretariat of eight. Investigation and evaluation of companies requires a highly meticulous work. You need to carefully check sources and be careful to make sure that you don’t use biased information. Moreover, you have to be stubborn and not give up. Sometimes investigation into particular companies can take several years. For example, when working on a project involving the textile industry in Asia, it took three years from the start of the investigation to the moment when the Council could issue a recommendation concerning a specific company. You also have to be able to work on your own because all members of the secretariat has their own area of expertise. You need to be somewhat nerdish. It’s a quite stressful job. The Council meets every month, and you are required to show your progress on the the different cases you work on.
Human rights is an important area that people should know more about and if you want to create change you must not yell your message or have a hostile approach. The best way is often to be friendly and contribute with your knowledge and perhaps even provide creative solutions
Aleksandra: How do you manage stress?
Pia: I try to be well organised, and I am a bit old fashioned, for example using a manual agenda which gives me an overview. I also try to be aware of my family’s activities and avoid being away from home too much during the evenings. I walk my dog every day which I find relaxing. If you feel very exhausted and tired, take a twenty minute nap, leaving your cell phone in another room. This will make you feel alert again.
Aleksandra: You have a consulting company for companies and investors that want to work actively with human rights and you also work for the organisation Norsif. How do you fit all this in?
Pia: My work as head of the secretariat at Norsif is an administrative position on an hourly basis up to two days a week. This means that I have a lot of time to do other work, and since I started I have had several interesting clients. Having worked with businesses and human rights for more than twenty years, I now find it very inspiring to be able to work as an independent expert in the field. I feel privileged.
Aleksandra: Your experience is really extensive. What motivates you to do the administrative work for Norsif?
Pia: The position at Norsif made it possible for me to start my own business. Leaving a full time job to start out on your own is a big step. The work for Norsif has also turned out to be quite interesting as I can also use my expertise on human rights there. I am now in the starting phase of creating a digital application that will help companies in different industries to work with human rights issues. I want to provide a practical tool for small and medium-sized companies to help them avoid getting involved in human rights violations, even if they cannot afford private consultation.
Aleksandra: You not only have a great career, but also a great family. You have been married for twenty years and have three children. How would you enter into a relationship in the era of social networks? How can one meet the right person and find happiness with them?
Pia: The key to managing my family and career is my husband. I’m incredibly privileged to live in Scandinavia where I can take up to one year of parental leave. We had less support in taking care of the children when they were small because the rest of my family lives in Sweden, so it was invaluable to get a whole year of parental leave. When I met my husband social networks did not exist. To meet someone, I would say that meeting face to face allows for much more respect and honesty than meeting online. For me, it seems better for young people to meet each other through school, the neighborhood or through hobbies than through social networking platforms. Anyone can create a beautiful story on their online profile, but how can you really know how true it is?
Aleksandra: What do you think about modern feminism, which can sometimes seem hostile towards men? How should a woman act if she wants to receive some good old-fashion care and attention?
Pia: One should show apprecition towards kind people in general. If a man opens the door for you, or gives you his seat then it’s natural to say, “Oh, thank you so much, that’s very kind of you.” When you start doing this, then you will get more of it because you signal to others and to men that this is what you like and appreciate. People ought to be more friendly towards one another and show kindness when others are nice to them. It is possible to say ‘thank you’ to someone without being flirty.
Aleksandra: Do you have any fears and how you manage them? Or are you fearless?
Pia: I’m not fearless. Of course, I worry about my family, but I don’t let it interfere too much in my life. I try not to think about those things, and it works. Nevertheless, I am worried about what is happening in the world. Another thing that concerns me is the changing climate, but I am also worried about terrorism. I must admit, I try to avoid crowded places, particularly when I’m abroad.
Aleksandra: What do you dream of?
Pia: I love my family, the place where I live and my job. When it comes to the wider perspective, the ideal would be a world without exploitation and where the distribution of resources was more equal. Very often economic imbalances cause conflict, and what we see in many countries today is that populism and national protectionism is gaining ground because of precisely this. When it comes to business and human rights, the dream is that human rights becomes an integrated consideration of all corporate activities – that they becomes a normalised prerequisite for doing business.