Dinner with Thorhild Widvey, former Minister of Petroleum and Energy for the Norwegian Government

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FWB Park Brown and EY jointly hosted a special dinner for over 50 senior businesswomen in Scotland. Our guest speaker was Thorhild Widvey who has held two senior Ministerial positions in the Norwegian Government and has chaired many Norwegian companies including, currently, Statkraft, a leading company in hydropower internationally and Europe’s largest generator of renewable energy. Given Norway’s quota system for women on the boards of listed companies, the audience was keen to hear what effect this has had both for female NXDs and for company boards.

It was interesting to hear that whilst voluntary action did not succeed in increasing the number of women on corporate boards in Norway, the quota law worked to the extent that a number of recent studies found companies with a higher share of women at top levels delivered stronger organizational and financial performance and higher stock price growth. They also found that operating profit doubled, there was a 42% higher return on sales, higher ethical behaviour, and, interestingly, greater creativity and innovation together with better use of the available talent pool.

Some of the guests, (a mix of CEOs, Chairmen and NXDs), whilst perhaps more cynical at the outset, by the end of the evening found themselves agreeing with having quotas. Norway’s experience was it obviously created more opportunities for women and they were able to transition into these roles more easily and very successfully. As one guest put it “There is always going to be a first time you do something, whether you are male or female and everyone has to learn.”

There was a lively and robust debate with many suggestions which will be followed up. For further information please contact Judy Wagner: judy@fwbparkbrown.com 

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