Norway has passed a law that requires all publicly traded companies to have a certain number of women on it's board by January 1 or risk being shut down. The law was initially passed in 2003 and now everyone is scrambling trying to meet the requirements.
I learned of this news as I was reading through the Wall Street Journal today. Initially, I started reading the article because I was curious. I'm not really sure how I feel, I'm sort of letting it sink in. I am a firm believer of free trade among goods and labor. Norway is the only country in the world that has this law.
But here is something that just really hit me funny. In the article I came across this: 'Trygve Hegnar, CEO and editor-in-chief of Hegnar Media, publisher of Norway's biggest financial newspaper and newsmagazine, [a man] says boards have "kicked off some very good" members to make room for inexperienced newcomers whose "main qualification is that they are women."'
If I were to change that to read "boards have kicked off some very good members to make room for inexperienced newcomers whose main qualifaction is that they are men", could we say that was a true statement?
I thought over my life experiences throughout my past career. And I can honestly say that the pot is calling the kettle black. Ladies, have you ever felt that a job or an opportunity was given to someone because their "main qualification is that they are men?". Ever had a man as a boss who may as well have been a monkey?
I've held positions in organizations where I produced and was intentionally held back and passed over because I am a woman. And I'll bet my bottom dollar that Trygve Hegnar has probably passed over a woman quite simply because she was a woman.
How many times have we heard of men who started as a clerk in the mail room working their way up to eventually become president of the organization. It happens. Men don't get pigeon holed into clerical positions. Has anyone ever heard of a woman promoting from the mail room? Or from the typing pool? No. Why? Because she was a woman. If she had any skills she wouldn't be in the typing pool....right?
The source of Trygve's frustration is that women in Norway are able to nominate themselves for these board positions, even if they are currently teachers or flight attendents, etc. My brother is a landman and has been for years and years. He didn't always have work but today he's making a six figure income. During the dry times, he was a baggage handler. Does my brother being a baggage handler disqualify him from being able to do work that pays six figures? I was a secretary and I heard over and over again that I couldn't be more than that in spite of my educational background, awards and previous work experience. Once a secretary always a secretary.
The way I see it is that this law has been passed because women in Norway aren't given opportunities to reach their full potential. So if teachers and waitresses and flight attendents are applying for these positions it may very well be that these people are underutilized and fully capable of the positions for which they are applying, just as my brother was while he was a baggage handler making minimum wage.
So I say, suck it up Trygve Hegnar and take it like a woman!