As part of a series of EAPM Member showcasing, we interviewed Mannauður Iceland CEO, Sigrún Kjartansdóttir.

You represent Iceland, what is unique/typical about your Country?

Iceland is known for a lot of things, geologically it is known for volcanoes, glaciers, and hot springs. The most famous of volcanoes is a glacier (a stratovolcano), Eyjafjallajökull, which erupted in 2010 and completely shut down all air traffic in Europe for many days.

According to the World Economic Forum, Iceland has been a global leader in gender equality since 2009. While there is still room for improvement, Iceland has made tremendous strides to level the wage gap and make the process more transparent. In 2018, the Equal Pay Certification was instituted for wage transparency under the Gender Equality Act. Workplaces with more than 25 employees are required to prove that they pay their employees the same wage for the same job without discriminating based on sex or face penalties. The law will be fully in force in 2022. We believe this legislation is unique worldwide, and a step toward full equality in the workplace.

What are the main challenges for (Icelandic) HR for the time being and looking into the future?

Talent. While Iceland has high rates of employment for both men and women, coupled with low levels of unemployment, there is still a talent shortage in Iceland. Especially in sectors such as health care, construction, tourism, and IT.


In a few sentences, how would you describe (Mannaudur)?

Mannauður is a leading professional association with a strong and established presence in the Icelandic business environment.  The association has a strong influence and an active social responsibility.

Mannauður as an organisation 

What are your main activities?
Enabling networking and knowledge sharing through meetings, seminars, interviews, articles, social media and our yearly conference. The Icelandic HR Day is the largest conference on leadership and HR in Iceland, bringing together more than 600 people for a full day of international and local speakers.

What are your challenges?
We are very ambitious and with only one employee, it can be hard to prioritize and focus on the projects that create the most value and impact for our members.

What are your ambitions for the future?
We are working hard to make Mannauður a large and prominent association that is recognised nation wide and is able to offer great value to the members of the HR community.  We want to be viewed as the definitive source for professional opinions and consultation on any matters related to human resources by the government and the private sector business environment.

 Are there any things you are especially proud of, on behalf of Iceland, Icelandic HR and/or Mannauður?

We are very proud of our member engagement and fast growing member base. We’ve gone from being 150 members to 600+ in only 4 years. That shows how much value members see in our association.

What does the European and EAPM community mean to you?

For a small association like Mannauður, it is very important to be a part of a broad network of HR associations. The possibility to connect, share, and get inspiration from different European HR associations is crucial to us. We can feel that HR in Europe is often more relatable to us while HR in the US for example is often on a different scale and less applicable to Icelandic circumstances. EAPM has given us a network of inspiring colleagues and contacts.

The EAPM has also been a source of strong Nordic cooperation, delivering surveys and insight to members and behind-the-scenes close contact and cooperation and mutual support between CEOs and employees.

Fun fact about or Iceland/Mannauður?

Although Iceland only has a population of 376,000 citizens, you wouldn’t know it by the country’s ongoing fight to prove its influence and superiority compared to the rest of the world. As a result, Iceland often finds itself near the top of every “per capita” list due to the sparse population found on the small island in the North Atlantic.

Combining the lofty expectations of Icelanders and the small population is a recipe for “per capita” success and we own hundreds, if not thousands, of per capita records. Here are a few noteworthy “per capita” accomplishments.

  •         Iceland consumes the most energy per person per capita
  •         Reykjavik has the lowest murder rate in the world per capita of cities greater than 100K people
  •         Highest internet usage per capita in the world
  •         Icelanders read the most books in the world per capita
  •         The highest usage of hydro-power usage in the world per capita
  •         The highest rate of golf courses per capita. Iceland has 66 golf courses, which equates to 1 golf course per 4,825 Icelanders.
  •         The most Nobel Prize winners per capita. (Iceland actually only has one Nobel Prize winner, but with its small population the ratio is still greater than any other nation with multiple winners that possess much greater populations.)

Fact box 1: EAPM Member Iceland 

Name: Web page: Linkedin page: Membership categories: Number of employees and branches: President:
Mannauður, félag mannauðsfólks á Íslandi 617 as of August 2022 1 employee. Sigrún Kjartansdóttir, CEO Ásdís Eir Símonardóttir

Fact box 2: Iceland

No. of inhabitants: Main industries: Unemployment rate: OECD page:
376,248 Tourism, aluminium smelting, and fishing are the pillars of the economy. 4,5% í febrúar 2022

What are your challenges, and how have you overcome these in the past, or how you plan to overcome these? Do you have any ‘wise words’ you would like to impart to the Members on overcoming challenges?
Our challenges are that we live in a society with few people (370,000) and our professional organization only has 0,7% staff. Our “wise words” are “Just Do It”.

Do you have any upcoming events/ webinars etc that you would like to mention, and encourage the members to attend?

Our Icelandic HR Day “Mannauðsdagurinn 2022”  will be held October 7, 2022.