There's affirmative action, and then there's affirmative action.
In Norway, the 500 companies listed on the country's stock exchange are being required to appoint at least two women for every three men on their boards of directors or face being shut down, the British newspaper the Guardian reports.
The companies have two years to comply with the rule, which already applies to new companies. State-owned companies have to comply with the requirement, and they now have 45 percent female representation on their boards. The government reportedly is considering applying the rule to family owned companies, as well.
The rule went into effect at the start of this year after companies had been given two years to voluntarily adopt the policy. However, many companies failed to act--an estimated 50 percent have no women on their boards--and Norwegian Equality Minister Karita Bekkemellem took the radical step of threatening to close the companies.
"From Jan. 1 2006, I want to put in place a system of sanctions that will allow the closure of firms," Bekkemellem told the Guardian. "I do not want to wait another 20 or 30 years for men with enough intelligence to finally appoint women. More than half of the people who have a business education today are women. It is wrong for companies not to use them. They should be represented."
Source: Guardian Unlimited