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Getting Women on to Corporate Boards

Getting Women on to Corporate Boards

A Snowball Starting in Norway

Edited by Silke Machold, Morten Huse, Katrin Hansen and Marina Brogi

This book provides unique insights into how the idea of quota laws to get women on to corporate boards gained international momentum from its origins in Norway. Invaluable insights are gained through the stories of actors involved in shaping the discourse and practice on women of boards.

Chapter 17: Consequences of the Norwegian gender quota regulation for public limited company boards

Vibeke Heidenreich

Subjects: business and management, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, gender and management


This chapter presents the first board member survey done in the wake of the introduction of the gender quota regulation to Norwegian public limited companies (PLCs) (Heidenreich and Storvik, 2010). In December 2003, after a prolonged period of intense discussions, the political demand for more women corporate board members led to the gradual introduction of gender quotas for most of Norway’s leading companies, including all listed companies. The gender quota regulations were formulated as new paragraphs in the existing Company Laws: § 6-11 in the law covering the public limited companies (PLC) and § 20-6 in the law covering state-owned private limited companies (Ltd). The gender quota regulation also applies for the boards of other kinds of municipal and state owned companies, but does not apply to private limited companies (Ltd). The corporate boards of the companies affected by the regulation are obliged to have a balanced representation of men and women. The gender quota regulation is often referred to as the 40 percent rule. Actually, the minimum requirements for gender representation vary between 33 per- cent for boards with three members, up to 50 percent in boards with two, four or six members. For boards with five, seven, nine or more members, the minimum requirement is 40 percent or more. The regulation also applies for the election of the employees’ representatives, except in companies where more than 80 percent of the employees are either men or women.

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