Sharing Norway’s experience with gender quotas for boards

Female leaders from Norway and Belgium discussed how to increase the share of women board members at Norway House on October 13.

– Norway has ten years of experience with quotas for women board members, while Belgium introduced quotas one year ago. This gives us a great platform for sharing experiences, said Ambassador Ingrid Schulerud in her introduction.

Around 30 female leaders attended the October 13 event, which was hosted by the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Brussels in cooperation with  Women on Boards, Belgium (EWoB) and Norwegian based Future Boards. The group included 12 Norwegian board members, including representatives from the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise and Statkraft, as well as EWoB members and companies based in Belgium. The European Women on Boards network was also represented by two of it’s co-founders and Advisory Board members, Cecile Coune and Turid E. Solvang.

Quotas changed attitudes in Norway

Norway introduced its quota law in 2007 requiring boards of listed companies to have a gender balance of at least 40/60. Researcher Mari Teigen of the Centre for Research on Gender Equality in Oslo told participants that the result ten years later is an increase in female board members from 6 percent in 2002 to 42 percent in 2016.

– The quotas definitely contributed to a change in the attitude and political debate about gender balance. Studies have shown great support for the law from the business community, said Teigen.

On the rise in Europe

According to the 2017 Gender Equality Index, the share of female board members in EU countries has more than doubled in the last decade. Across the EU, the share rose from 10 percent to 22 percent, while in Belgium it rose from from 5 percent to 25 percent (2005-2015).

Networking and mentoring

EWoB is a non-profit umbrella organisation established in Brussels in 2009. The network consists of nine member organisations from eight European countries, working together towards the same purpose: a balanced representation of women on boards of directors. Their work includes networking, mentoring and policy influence in the EU.

– We now have women from 20 different sectors and are looking to grow further. We want to create an international group of talents and bring this topic to an international and European level, said EWoB co-founder Cécile Coune.