[stockholm, sweden] In Sweden, there was no law on gender quotas for corporate boards. Despite the fact that the Swedish boards consist of a full 83 per cent men. Despite the fact that the goal of the gender equality policy is an even distribution of power and influence.
Many Swedish companies are happy that the bill has been put to death, but their view of women makes no one happy. Read only the following excerpt from the Swedish Enterprise Business Newsletter:
"We support in many ways many of the mentoring programs and other initiatives that can help strengthen those who will become role models for others – be they foreign-born, disabled, women or other groups."
Disabled, women or other groups. Have you not understood the most elementary? If this is representative of the view of women in the business world as such, one will be darkened. Surely they should be able to count? If you can, you know that women are not a "group" within the meaning of minority and / or deviants. Women make up half of the population, maybe even more, if you count more closely, and more women than men have higher education.
Or listen to the following, voiced by a boss high up in a listed company: "This with female and male, being at home and being boss, that's something that sits in the genes." : "The desire to be supported by men lies in women's genes." Well, that was an excuse, but the attitudes behind it were never to come from.
About the same time came a self-critical report from the Swedish Research Council, which distributes public funding for research in Sweden. The report showed that more men than women are allocated research funding. Assuming that women and men have the same abilities and opportunity to conduct research, as the report does, it is advantageous that both men and women participate in the research. In other words, gender equality is a matter of quality, it is pointed out, and the authors of the report add that it is likely that old, male structures and pre-conceived attitudes are the cause of the uneven distribution. In other words, patriarchal power structures are said to hinder the further development of research.
The same wise reasoning can be applied in business. If there is one thing that can give a competitive business life, it is precisely quality. Quality as a result of competence based on diversity, not (patriarchal) simplicity. Therefore, the burden of proof is great for those who still persistently defend rule dominated by male pigs and tough, old men.
In the absence of a law on quotas, financial journalist Mia Odabas and I have started Action 50/50. The starting point is that shared power provides doubled knowledge and thus also increased profitability. The composition of the boards is decided by the owners. That is why we have now bought shares – one each – in ten of the largest listed companies. You do not have to be a millionaire to buy shares. We got the cheapest for less than 50 kroner, and the most expensive cost around 200 kroner. We have selected large companies with poor women's representation, divided into several industries, and with different store owners. All to show that this concerns the entire business community.
Since then, we (as owners) have written letters to the nomination committees and asked them how they view male dominance and what they intend to do with it. We publish the answers continuously. During the spring, we will also attend all general meetings and raise the issue.
There are many indications that this may be the start of a new movement, after all the positive reactions we have had to judge. Today we do not own much, but the day we sit in a general meeting as a representative of 100.000 women, we have a solid portion of power. Everyone can do something – via the union, or as an individual shareholder. We can join together in stock clubs and make sure to give authorizations to those who attend general meetings. This is practical, classic organization for exercising power. In those companies where we do not get a hearing, we can always vote with our feet and sell our shares. The more we are, the more noticeable it becomes. Ownership is power, and we intend to exercise that power. Do what you do too.