All of the executives for all of the companies listed on the Icelandic Stock Exchange are men, RÚV reports. Fourteen men have been hired as CEOs at these companies in the last seven years, while not a single woman has been hired to an equal position in same time period.
There are eighteen companies listed on the Icelandic Stock Exchange (also known as Nasdaq Iceland). Eighteen men are employed as executives or directors there, but no women. There are twelve men in management positions at these companies, while six women act as managers for Arion Bank, Marel, Hagar, Síminn, Sjóva, and VÍS.
It’s a status quo that people such as Katrín Olga Jóannesdóttir, the chairman of the board at the Iceland Chamber of Commerce, lament in light of Iceland’s professed commitment to correcting gender imbalances and addressing equality issues. It’s also notable that when Katrín Olga took over as the Chamber of Commerce’s chairman last year, it was the first time since 1914 that a woman had held the position. At a recent conference on commerce and business, she took the opportunity to call attention to women’s status in the business world.
“I think it’s sad, I must admit. Business opportunities are being missed,” she remarked. “This is, of course, the tradition—men are normally the role models. And maybe it’s normal, too, that when women are knocking on the door, they don’t want to move over.”
Iceland established a gender quota by law six years ago, and yet women still only have executive roles at less than 10% of the country’s 400 largest companies.
“It’s not because of the Icelandic business world that Iceland is number one on equality issues,” continued Katrín Olga. “It’s because of the public sector.”
Katrín Olga believes that more men need to be involved in the process of overcoming the gender deficit. “It’s so easy to dismiss women who talk about equality issues because a woman is, in a way, talking about herself,” she said. “It pains me as the chairman of the board at the Chamber of Commerce, because we are working from the premise that private enterprise and individual freedom is what matters. Which is why I think that we need to be a role model in this area.”