pinkbriefcase.jpgWhat if the government stepped in and said, “ok, all you corporations out there. If you don’t add women to your board rooms pronto we will shut you down?”

Sounds extreme?

Well, that’s just what happened in Norway.

Two years ago, the government told company big wigs, mostly men, they had to install women on their boards or else. This from the Guardian:

The 500 companies listed on Norway’s stock exchange face being shut down unless they install women on their boards over the next two years in a radical initiative imposed by a government determined to help women break through the “glass ceiling”.

Norwegian companies face a two-year deadline to ensure that women hold 40% of the seats of each company listed on the Oslo bourse. New companies have to comply now with the rules and the government is considering extending the law to family-owned companies as well.

The requirement came into effect at the start of this year after companies were given two years to embrace the demands voluntarily following the passing of the law in 2003. State-owned companies are already obliged to comply and now have 45% female representation on their boards.

It seems the government’s mandated board quotas have translated into strides for women, albeit forced strides. The companies that have not complied have until Monday to pretty up their boards. Again from the Guadian:

Almost a quarter of Norway’s companies have failed to comply with a controversial law requiring them to increase the proportion of women on their boards to 40%, according to government figures. If they do not promote more women, they could be shut down.

Norway’s 487 public limited companies, including 175 firms listed on the Oslo stock exchange, have until the end of the year on Monday to implement a 2003 act that requires firms to boost the number of female directors.

The law, which introduced quotas, has been effective in raising the number of women board members at listed companies from 6% in 2001 to 37%.

Norway now boasts the highest proportion of women on boards in the world. Sweden comes second with 19%; the US has around 15%. In the UK, only 11% of directors were female in 2007.

The U.S. still has a long way to go. Maybe corporations here need some sort of swift kick in their collective asses. What do you all think? Can it happen without the big hand of Big Brother, or Big Sister?

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