Mai-Lill Ibsen says quotas are 'discriminatory in a way'
A Norwegian female boardroom pioneer has said women don’t need quotas to break the glass ceiling, saying they are ‘discriminatory in a way’.
Mai-Lill Ibsen, 57, once held more than 185 Norwegian boardroom seats and was known as the ‘queen of the golden skirts’ – meaning experienced executive women who were in great demand when Norway passed a law in 2006 requiring 40 per cent of boardroom seats should go to women (or men if a boardroom was female-dominated).
Speaking in a packed parliamentary committee room, she showed her objection to the ‘golden skirts’ label, saying nobody talks about the ‘many golden suits’ – men who hold similare positions.
She shocked onlookers by opposing the heavily-debated quota system, saying: ‘I’ve never seen the glass ceiling.
‘I’m against quotas. They are discriminatory in a way. I feel we [women] are so strong we don’t need that.
‘If someone wants to have me as a token, they would get more than they bargained for.’
In the UK the government is encouraging 25 per cent female presence in boardrooms by 2015 for FTSE 100 companies.
Although only eight of these companies are run by male-only boardrooms, statistics also show outside the highest executive roles the number of women coming up through the ranks is not growing.
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