Why Sweden is scrapping its gender equal boardrooms bid

The Local Sweden
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Why Sweden is scrapping its gender equal boardrooms bid
File photo of a generic office. Photo: Henrik Trygg/

The Swedish government has decided to abandon a plan for gender quotas on boards of directors after the proposal was met with resistance by opposition parties in a parliamentary committee.


A legislative proposal to fine Swedish companies if they do not have a 40 percent female representation on their boards of directors will not go ahead after all, after the ruling Social Democrat-Green coalition said it had failed to garner enough support among members of parliament, despite the Left Party's backing.

The parliamentary committee on civil affairs voted on Thursday not to throw its support behind the bid, which would have forced those 280 listed firms and around 50 state-owned companies who failed to meet the gender target to pay between 250,000 kronor and five million kronor ($560,375) in fines.

Enterprise and Innovation Minister Mikael Damberg had intended to put forward the centre-left government's proposal to parliament at the end of February, but said he would no longer do so.

"Things are moving far too slowly when it comes to gender equality on company boards, but what with this announcement, the government won't proceed with a bill, because the necessary parliamentary conditions are not there," he told the TT news agency.

READ ALSO: Top businesswomen slam boardroom quota plan

In 2012, the European Commission set a goal of 40 percent as applicable to 5,000 large corporations listed in the EU. The target should be met in 2020 in the private sector and in 2018 in public-owned companies, it hopes.


The objective does not apply to small and medium-sixed enterprises – companies with less than 250 employees and an annual worldwide turnover of less than 50 million euros – or to non-listed companies.

The parliamentary committee also urged the government to oppose an EU-wide goal and promote national self-determination on the issue.

Sweden has been accused in the past year of failing to live up to its reputation as one of the world's most gender equal countries. Around 32 percent of board members are women.

The country's ratio of women on boards is still far ahead the EU average of 23.3 percent.


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