NPR reported on a new gender diversity law in Norway, which requires that boards of all publicly traded and public limited companies have at least 40 percent female representation.
The regulation came in response to a 2002 finding that showed disproportionate representation of women on corporate boards – the new law is intended to reverse that trend and increase diversity.
Perhaps Scandinavians ought to pause, however, before moving forward with any more similar legislation. They might want to consider the unintended consequences group-protection laws have had here in the United States.
Too often legislation like this ends up hurting the very group it sets out to help. As Carrie Lukas told 20/20 earlier this year, legislation like the Pregnancy Discrimination Act makes it more risky and expensive to hire women.
The fact is, gender-protection legislation does not eliminate bad behavior; it simply allows bad employers to find other ways to discriminate. Both in Norway and here at home, lawmakers ought to consider how legislation like this makes business more difficult for good employers.