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More Women on Boards
Since writing about the lousy report card most companies receive for providing key leadership roles for women, I have found an intriguing furtherance of the story.

It seems that Norway isn’t just talking about more women serving on boards and in the executive office, it is legislating it.

A story from the Guardian Unlimited in the UK reports that Norway has passed a law that requires companies to replace men with women.

“Last year, the Norwegian parliament passed a bill forcing private firms to have at least 40% women on their boards. Companies had until July to boost participationnorway flag.jpg of their own accord. If the numbers are insufficient, which the state will decide by August 15, sanctions will be applied and they won't just be a slap on the wrist.

"If they don't follow the rules, at the end of the day, they will be dissolved," said Ansgar Gabrielsen, the 50-year-old conservative politician who initiated the law when he was trade and industry secretary.”

I am sorry to say that I don’t think this meets the objective. Providing training, mentoring, networking and career paths to women makes sense. Offering incentives or tax rebates for businesses that choose to participate makes sense. But forcing by law and threatening penalties to force a company to fill a quota doesn’t not benefit the economy, the shareholders, the company or women. In free markets and the private sector, shareholders elect board members. Is this system perfect? Obviously not, but as shareholders, executives and board members see the value that women leaders bring to their businesses, they will appoint more women.

Read the entire story, “A woman's place is ... on the board” here.

3 Comments/Trackbacks

I have to agree with you on this Hal. To legislate any group and forcibly remove another can offer no solution to a problem.

This is going to backfire big time in my estimation as legal action causes extreme tension between the men and women of Norway; and then any woman will be suspect if promoted because of talent rather than by legal threat.

You brought out powerful supports for why we might value men and women in new ways Hal, and I agree. A terrific read also. I found myself surprised though, by the notion that when others "see the value of women they'll appoint them." When I see the number of women leaders in Fortune 500 (and actually falling) I am wondering if their are creative ways to make it happen with more accuracy. Any columns to come that would suggest a faster way than waiting for value to be seen in places it too often gets missed? Seems we need an action plan to rise to, and a measuring rod that accommodates women's ways of knowing -- as part of the target. What do you think?

Ellen >>

You make a great point and I agree, we need to discuss this further. I will post a follow-up. If you have ideas, drop me an email or a comment.

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