Norway proposes 40pc gender quota for large and mid-size unlisted firms

OSLO (Reuters): Large and mid-size private firms in Norway must have boards comprising at least 40 per cent women, Norway’s government proposed in a bill on Monday, in a further push to break the glass ceiling preventing women from reaching top positions.

The Nordic country was the first in the world to introduce a 40pc gender quota on the boards of listed companies, in 2005, kick-starting an international push to force companies to have more women on boards.

In December, Norway’s government proposed an extension of its quota law to apply to large private companies.

On Monday, it said the proposal would also affect mid-size private firms – those with minimum 30 employees and yearly revenues above 50 million crowns ($4.7 million) when fully implemented in 2028.

“We are the first country in the world to do this,” Industry Minister Jan Christian Vestre told a news conference.

He said that while the push is based on the government’s ambitions to create a fair policy on equality, the primary driver was economical.

“It is about, first and foremost, creating more value, innovation, creativity and using all the resources in our society,” Vestre said.

The proportion of women on boards in private Norwegian firms is currently 20pc, the government said, up from 15pc two decades ago.

“This, we believe, is going too slowly and I am impatient,” Vestre said, adding that the government’s latest proposal has the backing of the main Norwegian employer lobby, NHO, and the main trade union confederation, LO.

The cabinet rules in a minority in order to pass laws. It is likely this bill could pass with the support of a left-wing party in parliament, the Socialist Left, which supports the government.

The bill, to be presented in the autumn, affects around 20,000 firms.

($1 = 10.5898 Norwegian crowns)