Gender Diversity on Boards: Views from Norway
The issue of gender diversity on boards has received increased attention in U.S markets over the past few years. In 2018, California introduced a law which required boards of U.S-listed firms with headquarters in California to include at least one female director by the end of 2019, and at least two by the end of 2021. In December 2020, Nasdaq asked the Securities and Exchange Commission to approve new diversity rules where the goal is to have boards of firms listed on Nasdaq have at least one female director and at least one underrepresented minority or LGBTQ+ director. However, such initiatives have invited criticism from various market participants, who argue gender quotas could violate the U.S. constitution because they could force companies to turn down a male board candidate or displace a male board member based on his sex. However, countries like Norway endorsed gender quotas more than a decade ago. What can we learn from Norway's actions? This note discusses the views from four prominent male and female executives and board members from the Norway business community on the quota law a decade after its legalization. They point out both challenges faced, and benefits gained by companies from this law. Students can debate the pros and cons of quota laws by drawing from the views and experiences of these executives, and can discuss the merits of corporate diversity quotas in the U.S.