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purplelizzy [userpic]
Norway's Quota for Women Board Execs: How it Works
by purplelizzy (purplelizzy)
at June 15th, 2008 (12:34 pm)


I posted a while ago about how in Norway, the government had legislated to place more women on the boards of directors of large companies and there was some discussion over the merits of this and how it might work.

Last weekend the Sunday Times (a UK broadsheet newspaper, with a centre-right slant) published a very enlightening article on the subject which really explains how and why this has worked so well in Norway when it would be very difficult, well impossible really, to imagine such a system in the UK, or USA.

Surpisingly, the scheme was thought up and instituted not by someone seeking to advance women's rights per se, but by a conservative politician:

"He was not driven by ideology aimed at creating equality between the sexes, he says, despite accusations that the quota law was created by “fetishists of diversity”. The boardroom revolution he ushered in was inspired by studies in the United States showing that the more women there are at the top of a company, the better it performs. The move also made sound national economic sense.

“What’s the point in pouring a fortune into educating girls, and then watching them exceed boys at almost every level, if, when it comes to appointing business leaders in top companies, these are drawn from just half the population – friends who have been recruited on fishing and hunting trips or from within a small circle of acquaintances?” he says. “It’s all about tapping into valuable under-utilised resources.” "

However, it is clear the reason the scheme was accepted and workable is because of Norway's strong history of egalitarianism and welfare ystem, including extensive maternity leave and funded childcare provisions that do not exist in many other countries. The nation's mindset is more focussed on being a member of a common society than on the individualism that has been so prevalent in the UK & US for the last 20 or 30 years.