September 9, 2016 / 2:18 PM / 3 years ago

Swedish govt says to propose gender quota law for listed firms - report

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Sweden’s minority centre-left government will put forward a bill that will stipulate at least 40 percent of board members of listed firms should be women, a cabinet minister told local news agency TT on Friday.

The proposed bill, which would need support from a centre-right opposition that has so far shown reluctance over the issue, would demand that companies comply with the quota by 2019 at the latest or face fines.

“We can’t just talk about this year after year without delivering,” Mikael Damberg, minister for enterprise and innovation, told the news agency.

Prime Minister Stefan Lofven’s coalition of Social Democrats and Greens has long threatened to introduce legislation unless the board level balance improved in a country which likes to see itself as a champion of gender equality.

Damberg said that while the portion of female board members at listed companies had risen to about 32 percent, the gradual increase was moving too slowly. Still, it remained unclear whether the bill would gain enough support to pass.

A spokesman for the centre-right opposition Liberals told Reuters his party would not support the bill.

In 2003, Norway became the first country in the world to impose a gender quota, requiring nearly 500 firms, including 175 firms listed on the Oslo bourse, to raise the proportion of women on their boards to 40 percent.

Similar laws have or are in the process of being introduced in France, Germany and the Netherlands.

Reporting by Johan Ahlander and Niklas Pollard

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