More women in boards of state-owned companies

As part of a programme with limited subjects within employment law, the Government has introduced a bill to amend the Act on Equal Rights to increase the number of women in Danish boards.

Content of the bill

The bill recommends that state-owned companies and institutions should have an equal composition of men and women. This also applies to companies that are not included under public administration, but which costs are primarily covered by Government means, or which are primarily owned by the state.

According to the bill, such state-owned companies will be ordered to (1) state a target figure of the number of the under-represented gender of the senior management, (2) prepare a policy to increase the number of such employees, and 3) give an account on the status of the achievement of the target figures etc. in the annual report.

The bill maintains the present part 4 of the Act concerning gender composition in public committees, commissions, etc. This means, inter alia, upholding of the duty to suggest both men and women for public committees and to let a post remain vacant if a recommendation is not followed by an objective reason not to recommend both a man and a woman.

Further, the bill suggests to cancel the present section 1a (2) of the Act making it possible to attach importance to the gender as a factor when calculating premiums and benefits in relation to insurances and similar financial benefits if gender is a decisive factor in connection with the calculation.

The bill's consequences in terms of equal treatment

The purpose of the bill is to promote gender equality as to participation in the decision-making of society with the result that the competences of both men and women come into play in the future.

The intention of the bill is therefore to create a more equal gender composition in the board of directors and other collective senior management bodies within state-owned institutions and companies and to create more focus on increasing the number of the under-represented gender of the other levels of management.

Qualifications instead of gender are still decisive when filling positions in state-owned companies. The rules on a more equal representation will, however, be of importance when having to decide between two equally qualified candidates of each gender. According to the rules, the choice will to a wider extent be to the benefit of the under-represented gender. As the under-represented gender is mainly women, the bill will in practice be more important to women than men. Men may to a smaller extent than before be elected, but as there are also industries where men are under-represented, the rules may in these industries have the opposite effect.

Implementation of the directive on temporary workers

According to the programme, the bill on the act on temporary workers is expected to be introduced in December 2012. We will follow the development and forward a Newsletter when the bill is introduced.

The content of this Newsletter is not, and should not replace, legal advice.

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Marianne Lage

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