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Large private Norwegian firms must have boards that comprise at least 40% of women or they will be shut down, the government proposed in a bill on Monday, in a further push to break the glass ceiling preventing women from reaching top positions.
The Nordic country was the first in the world to introduce a 40% gender quota on the boards of listed companies, in 2005, kickstarting an international push to force companies to have more women on boards.
Last month, the European Parliament passed a law forcing large listed companies in the European Union to have a minimum 40% of non-executive board members as women from mid-2026. EU states have already approved the law.
Now the center-left government in Oslo is recommending that large private companies, not just listed ones, should have a 40% gender quota.
“Companies are not good enough in using the skills of both genders. It is high time this changes,” Industry Minister Jan Christian Vestre said in a statement.
The proportion of women on boards in private firms is currently 20%, the government said, up from 15% two decades ago.
“It has taken 20 years to increase the share by 5 percentage points. If we continue at this tempo, we will never reach our goal [of having gender balance],” Equality Minister Anette Trettebergstuen said.
The bill would not apply to smaller private companies in order to be “appropriate and not [be] more extensive than necessary”, the statement said. The bill, if voted in its current state, would affect 3-7% of private companies.
The Cabinet rules in a minority in order to pass laws. It is likely this bill could pass with the support of a leftwing party in parliament, the Socialist Left, which supports the Cabinet.