Background

 

Come to hear the inside story of today’s Norwegian corporate boards, with now more than 40% of positions filled by women, up from 6% in 2002..

Board Impact – Leveraging Diversity. This conference is bringing together Chairmen, investors, shareholders,
politicians, academia and board members – male and female
– to share the inside story on what it took and still takes to leverage diversity in the board room. The former Norwegian Minister for Trade and Industry, Mr Ansgar Gabrielsen, the driving force behind this historic achievement, will share his reflections on the advances and drawbacks behind the numbers.

As part of the program, we will assess the current global picture of women on boards and reflect on the latest research on the value of diversity in the board-broom. In addition, we will discuss the range of measures that have proved successful in identifying and promoting talented women to boards in Norway as well as potential implications in other geograhpies.

Committed to taking advantage of the full pool of talent Ansgar Gabrielsen proposed a controversial piece of legislation in 2002 to increase the number of women on Norwegian corporate boards from 6% to 40%.

 

Naturally, public outcry followed. CEOs, chairmen,shareholders, selection committees and company owners took turns in attacking “this ridiculous proposal” and lamented: “Women are not ready to take on these roles. Women are not interested, they lack experience and we don’t know where to find them”. Even women were negative at first. Many successful female executives feared the prospect of being viewed as “second-class” board members selected because of t heir gender rather than for their skills.

Regardless of the hostility, Mr Gabrielsen persisted and on January 1st 2007, Norway became the first country in the world to have a 40% female repre-sentation in the boardroom. Today, eight years after the quota law was first proposed, Norway continues to take a global lead with almost 45% women on our corporate board. Many strongly believe that the per-
centage of women on boards would remain close to the same even if the law were removed. As the CEO of a leading venture capital firm recently said: “We now appoint women to our boards. It is the way of the future and we don’t want to be lagging behind.”

Following Norway’s lead, Spain, and more recently France, are now taking steps to pass legislation to bring more women to their corporate boards.


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