Scandinavia leads the way for women on boards - but not female exec directors

Norway has no female executive directors despite board quotas, while the UAE looks deceptively good for gender equality.

by Rachel Savage

The Nordic nations have a reputation for gender equality, topping all sorts of league tables measuring the advancement of women. But oddly enough, when it comes to executive directors Norway and Finland are way down the ranks, despite taking the two top spots for the overall percentage of female company directors, according to research by headhunter Egon Zehnder.

Norway, Sweden and Finland have been consistently good at promoting women to the boardroom, topping the table back in 2010. In contrast, countries such as the UK, France and Italy have staged a huge turnaround in the last four years, the latter increasing the percentage of female directors from just 5% in 2010 to 20.2% now.

The UK, meanwhile, is fast approaching the target of having 25% female directors by next year, recommended by Lord Davies in his 2011 review. From just 13.3% of directors being female in 2010, 22.6% of board positions are now held by women.

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