Global Diversity and International Employment
Legally mandated gender quotas on corporate boards are one effective form of positive discrimination that has taken hold in Europe. These metrics serve as a regimented means of removing inequities in the corporate boardroom and promoting women’s economic interests. Before the first gender quota came into effect in 2003, the problem of female under-representation was strikingly apparent. Although the proportion of women in the workforce was continually increasing in most jurisdictions, this growth did not translate into increased representation on corporate boards.
Norway was the first nation to enact a legally mandated gender quota in 2003. Before then, women represented a meagre 6.8 per cent of board directors in the country. In response, the Norwegian parliament approved a rule requiring corporate boards to consist of 40 per cent women by 2008. The quota applies to all publicly owned corporations and public limited liability companies in the private sector. Affected corporations had until 1 January 2006 to voluntarily comply with the quota rule, after which time compliance became mandatory. The result was full compliance with the mandate by 2009, and in 2010 the percentage of female directors had increased to 40.3 per cent. In 2021, women represented 42 per cent of the board members of publicly traded Norwegian companies. The gender quota law has had, and continues to have, an undeniably positive effect as evidenced by Norway’s No. 3 ranking in the World Economic Forum’s 2021 Global Gender Gap Report.
Global diversity and international employment.