Swedish companies ‘soon least gender equal in the Nordic countries’: report

Women and men in a board meeting
According to a new report, Sweden is not set to achieve board equality until 2042. Lieselotte van der Meijs/imagebank.sweden.se
The share of women on the management of listed Swedish companies has stood still for five years, meaning Sweden risks soon having the least gender-equal business world of any Nordic country, a new report released for International Women's Day has found.

According to the 10th annual report of AllBright, a group which campaigns for better representation of women on company boards and management teams, Sweden is set to be overtaken by Denmark to become the Nordic country with the lowest share of women in the management teams of the top companies by 2022, losing a leadership position it had as recently as 2015. 

“Sweden is living on its past glories. Over the past five years, the share of women in the management teams of the biggest Swedish companies has stayed still at 25 percent, which was a high share five years ago. But it no longer looks that flattering compared to the neighbours,” Amanda Lundeteg, the campaign group’s chief executive, told the TT newswire. 

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“Norway, Finland and Iceland have now caught up with Sweden, and Denmark is well on the way. If the trend continues, Sweden will be the worst in the Nordics in two years.” 

But while Sweden has stood still when the analysis is limited to the top 30 companies, there has been more progress when looking more broadly at the top 300 listed companies.  

There, the share of women has grown by 67 percent over the last decade, nearly twice as fast as the growth in the preceding decade, while the share of listed companies which could be considered gender equal has increased from 5 percent to 19 percent. 

“We have got a lot done, but we still have most still to do,” Lundeteg said. “We also see that the number of woman chief executives has doubled over the last decade.” 

She said that having more female chief executives was likely to itself further bolster gender equality as female chief executives are significantly more likely to recruit other women. 

“Having a woman at a high level can have quite a significant effect on equality. The chief executive position is the key one for gender equality across the whole executive board,” she said.  

According to AllBright’s analysis, Sweden is not set to achieve board equality until 2042, meaning it will miss the UN goal of gender equal power and influence by 2030. 

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