Norway Leads World With Women In The Boardroom

Public companies have until Jan. 2008 to hit a goal of having 40% of their boards comprised of women.

Women account for at least 40% of the boardroom places in more than half of Norwegian companies, making the Scandinavian country a world leader in directorship gender equality, according to a report published earlier this week.

Norwegian businesses have been given until January 2008 to meet the 40% target or face being shut down, under a new law. "It's the first time that a majority of companies have met the target," Marit Hoel, the head of the Center for Corporate Diversity, said .

A pioneering Norwegian law, initiated in 2002 by a male conservative minister, requires the country's 520 public limited companies to have at least 40% women on their boards as of January 1, 2008 or face closure. On June 1, 55% of companies had complied. But 134 companies still had no women on their boards, Hoel said.

The overall proportion of women on the boards of Norway's public listed companies is currently 26.6%, twice the level in most western countries and almost four times more than in 2002 when the law was initiated.

According to the Center for Corporate Diversity, the equivalent figure in the U.S. is 13.6%, compared to 11.8% in Britain, 11.2% in Canada and 8.4% in Australia.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007

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