- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 26, 2002

STOCKHOLM (AP) The Swedish government will introduce a gender quota for corporate boards unless one in four board members is a woman by 2004, a senior Cabinet member said in an interview published yesterday.
Deputy Prime Minister Margareta Winberg said companies must make good on their promises to bring women into leadership roles in an area still dominated by men in this Scandinavian nation of 8.9 million.
"If companies don't reach 25 percent women by 2004 then we must introduce quotas," Miss Winberg told the daily newspaper Svenska Dagbladet. "It's a promise to all those women who are angry. It's a threat against those companies who don't like it."
Miss Winberg also serves as minister for gender-equality affairs in the center-left Social Democratic government that was re-elected in September.
She said she hopes corporate boards will invite women without legislative action, but threatened that a quota proposal could be presented to parliament by 2004 or 2005 if they fail.
Opponents of quotas contend that corporations should pick the best person for the job, regardless of their sex.
Six percent of board members of companies that are listed on the Stockholm stock exchange are women, and that figure is growing slowly. In contrast, the government said that 37 percent of the board seats of state-owned companies are held by women.
Women make up 45 percent of the 349-seat Riksdag, or parliament, and hold 10 of 22 seats in Prime Minister Goeran Persson's Cabinet.
In neighboring Norway, the center-right government has set an even higher target for female board members: 40 percent.
The Ministry of Children and Families said a quota affecting state-owned companies will be voted on by parliament in the spring, while private corporations have until 2005 before facing legislative action, the ministry said.


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