A Snowball Starting in Norway
Edited by Silke Machold, Morten Huse, Katrin Hansen and Marina Brogi
Chapter 2: Women on board
I am proud to be the Minister of Children and Family Affairs who proposed the law on gender balance in the boardrooms to Parliament. But I was not the minister who started this initiative. Rather, this was a lengthy process that took about eight years of discussions and two hearings before the proposal finally ended up in the Parliament. My former party leader and former Equality Minister Valgerd Svarstad Haugland was the first minister to take the initiative. This was in Prime Minister’s Kjell Magne Bondevik’s first Cabinet. Valgerd Svarstad Haugland organized a hearing and the debate was intense. The protests raised by some of the owners and leaders of companies represented at the hearing made it seem as though this law would sound the death knell of stock exchange-listed companies, those who would be affected by the new law. In Prime Minister’s Kjell Magne Bondevik’s second Cabinet, the question of women in boardrooms was raised again. This cabinet consisted of three parties: the Conservative Party, the Liberal Party and the Christian Democratic Party, which was the party I belonged to. I would lie if I said that it was easy to pass this proposal through the Cabinet. Different ministers were for and against it. The two main issues of contention were the law in itself, and the discussion about sanctions if companies did not abide by the law once it was implemented. Hard work in the form of administrative, professional and political overtime was the key to ultimate success.
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