The Scandinavian furniture company IKEA has apologized for airbrushing nearly all of the women and girls out of the Saudi version of its catalogue, the Associated Press reported Monday. The catalogue is otherwise nearly identical in all 38 countries in which it’s printed.
The move prompted rebuke in Sweden, a country with some of the world’s strongest gender equality protections. “You can’t delete women from society,” Swedish trade minister Ewa Bjorling told Sweden’s Metro newspaper.
The company also reportedly removed a female IKEA designer from one of the catalogue’s corporate images.
Ikea later said, “We should have reacted and realized that excluding women from the Saudi Arabian version of the catalogue is in conflict with the IKEA Group values,” the AP reported.