Norway to extend quotas for women on company boards

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Norway to extend quotas for women on company boards
Women currently hold only around 20 percent of board positions in Norway. Photo by Christina @ on Unsplash

Norway's government said Monday it planned to increase gender equality in the business world by extending quotas for the number of women on boards to 20,000 large and medium-size companies by 2028.


A pioneer in the field, the Scandinavian country has since 2004 required the boards of directors of state-owned companies to be made up of at least 40 percent women, or face closure. The same rule has since 2008 applied to the biggest companies listed on the stock exchange.

Likewise, at least 40 percent of board directors must be men.

The centre-left government, supported by the main employers' union NHO and workers' union LO, on Monday said it aimed to introduce similar regulations for large and medium-size companies, progressively over the years, based on sales and number of employees.

"Norway is the first country in the world to take this step," Trade and Industry Minister Jan Christian Vestre said, unveiling details of the plans already announced in principle in December.

Under the criteria outlined for 2024 - affecting companies with annual sales of at least 100 million kroner or $9.4 million - some 8,200 companies would be affected next year.

The sales and number of employees will gradually be lowered until 2028, by which time some 20,000 companies would be affected.

Slow progression

Women currently hold only around 20 percent of board positions in Norway, with the progression deemed slow considering the number was 15 percent around 20 years ago.

"In 2023, we still have too big a gap on Norwegian boards," Vestre said.


Gender equality and diversity can contribute to "more innovation, a better professional environment, smarter decisions and more added value", he stressed.

The minority centre-left government will need the support of other parties in parliament to get its proposal adopted, and is therefore subject to changes.

The European Parliament last year adopted new regulations requiring large companies in the EU - of which Norway is not a member - to reserve at least 40 percent of non-executive board positions or 33 percent of all board positions to the under-represented gender as of July 2026.


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