Gender equality in board rooms

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Date:
01 Nov 2012

the danish government is introducing two bills to promote gender equality in the supreme governing bodies of danish companies

By:
Yvonne Frederiksen

The Danish Government is introducing two bills to promote gender equality in the supreme governing bodies of Danish companies

The Danish Government is introducing two bills to promote gender equality in the supreme governing ‎bodies of Danish companies.‎
 
The Danish Government recently introduced two bills intended to require government institutions and ‎businesses as well as approx. 1,100 of the largest Danish companies to set targets and prepare policies ‎for the gender composition of their supreme governing bodies.‎
 
If enacted, one of the bills will change the current rules governing government institutions and ‎businesses. The other bill will introduce a whole new set of rules for the approx. 1,100 largest Danish ‎companies – the same companies which are currently subject to CSR reporting requirements under the ‎Danish Financial Statements Act.‎
 
Under the Danish Gender Equality Act in its current form, government institutions and businesses within ‎public administration should be gender balanced. For non-public administration businesses which are ‎primarily government funded, the composition of the board of directors must be gender balanced to the ‎extent possible.‎
 
If the bills are enacted, government institutions and businesses as well as the approx. 1,100 largest ‎companies will be required to set targets to increase the number of the under-represented gender on ‎the board of directors. In addition, government institutions and businesses (within public ‎administration) with 50 employees or more and the companies in question will be required to ‎formulate a policy for how they intend to increase the proportion of the under-represented gender at ‎other management levels. And, subsequently, they will be required to report to the relevant ministry ‎on the status of the targets and, if relevant, explain why they have not been met.‎
 
As far as the 1,100 largest companies are concerned, their annual report must also include a report on ‎the company's policy. Failure to comply will be punishable by a fine.‎
The explanatory notes to the bill state that, with the bills, the Danish Government has tried to strike a ‎balance between the objections of the corporate sector to rigid quotas and the need to promote ‎progress with regard to the number of women in the supreme governing bodies of Danish companies.‎
 
The first reading of both bills by the Danish Parliament took place on 23 October 2012 and the bills are ‎now in the committee stage. Norrbom Vinding will follow their progress and report on developments.‎