For the first time ever a Nordic country has reached full gender equality in the Nordic Labour Journal’s gender equality barometer. The barometer reflects the gender balance in 24 different positions of power in the Nordic societies. After a change of government last autumn, Norway has now reached 22 points. 20 points is needed for full gender equality.
“If we want to be a sustainable company we need mixed leadership groups on all levels. We have no credibility if we have only men in management. We also see how it has a positive influence on the entire organisation and that it has become more fun to work,” says Anette Segercrantz, head of human resources at Storebrand, which comprises the Swedish pensions provider and consultancy firm SPP.
Denmark is about to face the lack of gender equality in ethnic minority communities head on. The Minister for Children, Gender Equality, Integration and Social Affairs, Manu Sareen, sees young immigrants beginning to rise up against the unequal treatment of girls and boys. He encourages everyone to join in.
Norway and Iceland have already introduced them and now boardroom gender quotas are rolling out across Europe.
Half of Italy’s new government ministers are women. What impact will that have on a country with Europe’s lowest female employment rate? Prime Minister Matteo Renzi promises change. He wants immediate reforms and to get the economy going. Yet so far the boardroom quota legislation seems to be having the greatest impact on gender equality.
There are two ways to compare different countries’ gender equality policies. You could look at the number of women reaching power or you could look current policies. The two don’t necessarily tell the same story.
“The important thing is to create a feeling of “us” for everyone who lives in Sweden and who sees their future to be here. If you want to live here you should also have a future here, but then there are issues which must be sorted out; like a job, language and security,” says Sweden’s Minister for Integration Erik Ullenhag.
Finland has taken longer to adapt its labour market to immigration than other Nordic countries. It is more than ten years ago now that the then Minister of Employment Tarja Filatov (Social Democratic Party) gathered Nordic integration expert to a meeting outside of Helsinki.
The sizeable immigration from former Eastern European countries to the Nordic countries - and to Norway in particular - calls for integration measures which also include labour migrants, say Norwegian researchers.
All of the Nordic countries are attractive targets for refugees and labour migrants alike. But there are major differences both between which groups arrive and how they are received. Finland and Iceland have always stood out, but now the differences are increasing at a faster rate also between Denmark, Norway and Sweden.
Being Icelandic can be an advantage if you're looking for somewhere to live and work in Norway. Icelanders themselves believe their historical roots in Norway are often the reason they’re well received by Norwegians. One anthropologist thinks Icelanders have an advantage over other immigrant groups in Norway.
Danish social entrepreneur Nina Brandi has successfully involved vulnerable women in her knitting business mormor.no which sells hand and machine knitted products to a global market.
Labour market measures and various types of training are not enough, no matter how good they are. Job creation is the crucial thing and it must happen through cooperation between the public and private sectors and civil society. These were some of the conclusions when labour market experts met at the annual Employment Forum in Brussels.
Employers’ attitudes when it comes to hiring workers with reduced work ability is not necessarily governed by ill will. A targeted effort to support employers through a project running for several years in Satakunta in western Finland showed that they need facts and practical advise in order to successfully hire people who for instance have mental challenges.
Jasmina Smajić Šupuk from Slovenia was unemployed for two years but had a background from voluntary organisations like Amnesty International. When she could find no employer who would take her on, she decided to start her own business — finding other people jobs.
Part-time work has few negative consequences for women in the Nordic region. New regulations have reduced the impact on pensions. A preschool teacher or enrolled nurse in Denmark or Norway who works part time for ten years still receives 98-99 percent of the maximum pension.
There is an intensive debate on part time work in all of the Nordic countries. But this goes further than women choosing to work part time for certain periods. If gender equality is the goal, should women take on more full time work or should men work more part time?