Monday, December 05, 2005

Quotas

A few weeks ago, the FT Magazine had an issue focusing on women and business. I don't really find these '50 most important rich people' type of thing very interesting, even if they are about women. As Graham Watts in his 'Editor's Letter' admitted, 'Cynics might want to know when we are going to publish a list of the world's top 25 left-handed executives.'

Pilita Clark's article, 'The accidental feminist' (subscribers only), however,  was fascinating: 'Norwegian men are financially penalised if they don't use their "papa quota" of four weeks leave to look after their new babies and their are plans to increase it to 10 weeks.' One businesswoman said that until employers look at male staff and think "he's going to disappear when the baby comes", nothing will really change for women in business.

The main thrust of the article, however, was a measure to impose quotas of female directors on company boards: state-owned companies had to meet the 40 per cent targets almost immediately. Public limited companies were given until mid-2005 to voluntarily meet the quotas. Otherwise, by 2007 they faced being "dissolved by order of the court of probate and bankruptcy".

Under Norway's constitution, half the cabinet is supposed to belong to the Lutheran state church of Norway. Ansgar Gabrielsen, then Norway's trade and industry minister, appeared to be typical of the conservatives produced by this system, but he explained that 'he had been reading studies showing that the more women there were at the top of a company, the better its financial position was likely to be.'

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