Spies and Racism at Ikea?: Former Executive Writes Shocking Tell-All - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International
An ex-exec at IKEA has written a tell-all memoir accusing the furniture megalith of many, many offenses.
Stenebo accuses Ikea of employing methods akin to those used by the East German secret police, the Stasi. He details an alleged tight-knit network of informers who were able to contact Kamprad directly at his private home in Switzerland via telephone and fax. They were expected to regularly update Kamprad on the atmosphere in the company and to pass on personal gossip. According to Stenebo, the Swedish headquarters of Ikea was apparently shaken by a power battle in the late 1990s, during which time "the spies actively took action to get employees onto Kamprad's side." The conflict went so far that at times there was the feeling that the whole company was "split into factions for and against Ingvar," Stenebo claims. None of which goes down very well in Sweden, where the locals would rather seek consensus.
On the executive floor, Stenebo claims, foreigners were repeatly denigrated as "niggers." They apparently had no chance of promotion within the company -- something Stenebo blames on Kamprad's increasing paranoia. Ikea, in spite of being the world's largest furniture company, is run exclusively by people from Almhult in the Swedish region of Smaland -- the small town where Kamprad himself grew up. "Born on the farm" is how the Swedish describe it. The importance of blood and place of birth within Ikea is no coincidence, Stenebo claims -- blatant racism exists within the company.
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In politically correct times, collaborating with environmental groups is not just a question of good publicity. Many wood-producing nations are under constant pressure from the international community. Nowadays Ikea sources a significant portion of its wood products from China, Stenebo claims. "I know that even in China you can't buy legal wood for the price that we paid there," Stenebo says.