Thursday, 19 January 2012

Quoted: Ansgar Gabrielsen, former Norwegian Minister of trade & industry

From "Women never work past 5pm in Norway...", The Times, January 18th 2012

When asked whether Britain should introduce a quota system to increase the number of women on the boards of FTSE 100 companies:

"I have never made a proposal for another country. You are on your island with your conservatives. You have Downton Abbey," he chuckles. "I think Great Britain will be one of the last countries in Europe to have more women on their boards if only to be the last, to make a point. Changing boardrooms is essentially about losing power."

While the last sentence strikes me as somewhat bizarre - power doesn't have to be a zero-sum game, and it's hardly about 'losing power' for women - I kind of love this guy. He's a conservative, not particularly interested in fighting for equality - his legislation to increase female representation on publicly listed companies to a mandatory 40% minimum was prompted by the idea that "there [is] an economical value in having diversity because mixed boardrooms created more business."

And while I get a slightly skeevy feeling whenever someone argues from difference in favour of gender equality ("I've been on a lot of boards. and men and women behave differently ... Women are not afraid of asking questions and men take more risks. It is important to have both.") ... looking out from our island with our conservatives, that sounds like a nice debate to be having.


  1. It's about losing power for men, and men are the ones who'll make the decision, so I think that does make sense.

  2. eleanargh: no way! what your saying is basically logical positivism, or, put another way: false impericism. In my view, turning what is a major, major issue into something so small. but, philosophically, good cheer to ya

    allama, [i'm] not trying to reach too far across water but, I hate to agree with those that use different reasoning to arrive at the same progress. --frustrated love)
    Maybe I'm saying, "no! you're right. (to you at least)"

    Very good discussion you've got going on with this blog!

    1. A debate! In the comments! Between two people who are not me! Well aren't I the cat's jimjams.

      Hmm, on one level it is about men as a group losing power, but that's not the only way to look at it, and not the most helpful - though I do take your point that it's how it will be seen by those doing the actual decision-making.

      Progressivedreamer, could you expand on the logical positivism/false impericism thing? (By which I mean that I'm not familiar with those terms, sorry!)