More women in the boardroom, Danish survey reveals

Equality has taken a small step forward at stock market-listed companies, and perhaps a bigger one in local politics

A new study carried out by the confederation of Danish industry, Dansk Industri (DI), based on figures from the Danish Business Authority reveals the number of women on boards has increased.

Since new legislation was passed in 2013, the number of women on boards at the 1,400 stock market-listed companies looked at by the study has risen from 10 to 17.4 percent, reports DR Nyheder.

On the right track
“Since the law was introduced in 2013, there has been a positive development,” said Charlotte Rønhof, the deputy head of DI.

“One could always wish that things had gone a bit quicker, but the process of getting more women into Danish companies is going really well.”

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Nina Smith, a professor at the institute of economics at Aarhus University, agrees that progress has been made, but emphasises that it is very uneven.

According to her, if things are to move forward quicker, politicians should seriously consider earmarking more of the existing maternity leave for men. If men take more time off in connection with having children, the culture surrounding women in the workplace would change.

“Here is an instrument that would really make a difference to the family and would influence the woman’s subsequent career. As they stand, the laws in Denmark really prop up the traditional stereotypical family pattern, where the woman takes most of the maternity leave,” added Smith.

Still a long way to go
Enhedslisten’s equality spokesperson, Pernille Skipper, agrees: “We’re not cracking open the champagne quite yet. We’re saving it for when we get close to a 50/50 ratio. It’s good to see things moving in the right direction, but there is a lot of work ahead of us.”

Karen Elleman, the minister of equality, is more concerned about equal opportunity than the actual percentages. She doesn’t plan to alter the maternity leave system and earmark more of it for men. “The discussion ought to be carried out in boardrooms. It shouldn’t be steered by political quotas,” said Elleman.

New feminist party in Denmark
In related news, Denmark now has its first avowedly feminist political party. Feministisk Initiative was founded on July 5 this year and has now gone public with its manifesto.

So far, the party consists of 12 female board members, but it has five candidates ready to stand in the upcoming municipal elections in Copenhagen and two vying for election to the regional council of Region Hovedstad.

“Feminism is not only about equality, but also about equal access for all to society. It’s a criticism of the power structure – a struggle for civil rights,” a spokesperson for the party told Politiken.

“We really hope that people understand we’re not just a group of discontented women who want to bring men down, but that we support equality both for men and women and we also want to improve men’s rights.”