Landmark Gender Equality Law In Iceland Not Producing Significant Returns - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Landmark Gender Equality Law In Iceland Not Producing Significant Returns

Andie Fontaine
Photos by
Art Bicnick

A law passed shortly after the 2008 financial crash which was supposed to strike a gender balance in the directorship boards of Iceland’s largest companies has yet to yield such results, RÚV reports. In fact, men are in the majority of these boards in over 80% of Iceland’s 250 largest companies.

The intent of the law was to establish that any company with more than 50 employees would have to have a management team that is at least 40% comprised of women. This law went into effect for public institutions in 2010, and for publicly traded companies in 2013.

However, this has yet to happen. The directorship boards of the 250 largest companies in Iceland are, on average, only 10% comprised of women. Companies with 50 to 150 employees have also fallen short of the 40% rule.

There was some encouraging trending going on only three years ago. In 2015, more women had indeed been gaining ground in management positions, but that trend has abated, for reasons that are still unclear.

All that said, there are some promising signs of improvement. Companies that already have women in positions of management are far more likely to hire more women into their directorships than those led by men. This may indicate a sort of domino effect is in play, which may precipitate rippling changes through other companies. 10 years after the law was passed, however, there is still quite a ways to go before gender equality is achieved in these positions.


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