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Norwegian Women Break into the Boardroom

Norwegian law now requires publicly listed corporations to have at least 40 percent women on their boards of directors. The legislation was actually introduced in 2003, but gave companies five years to bring more women onto their boards with a January 1, 2008 deadline, according to the BBC.

Norway was the second country in the world where political parties passed positive quotas to increase the number of women serving in the Parliament. As a result, Norway today ranks 6th among the world”s Parliaments with 37.9% women members. The United States Congress ranks 65th, with 16% female. Norway now ranks the highest for women on corporate boards.

Under the law, companies that failed to comply by the deadline would be forced to close their doors. Not one of Norway”s companies actually had to shut down for non-compliance. Currently, almost 38% of board members are female, compared to 15.5% when the legislation was initially introduced. However, women comprise only 4% of board chairs.

“This reform is a success. The most alarmist people told us the economy would suffer, that investors would flee Oslo, that the level of competence on the boards would plunge,” said Marit Hoel, the head of Norway’s Centre for Corporate Diversity (CCD) in the AFP. “What we’ve seen is that the economy is doing very well, that the investors are still there, and that the women who have been appointed to the boards are more highly educated, more international and younger than their male counterparts, which creates a new dynamic.”

Sources:

BBC 1/11/08; AFP 12/22/07

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