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The Icelandic Equality Index is a project based on annually gathering and publishing information on gender equality among the 100 largest companies in Iceland (based on turnover). The Equality Index project concerns also the development of measurement units for the assessment of Equal Rights in companies. The project is conducted by the Research Centre for Labour Law and equality at the University of Bifröst in co-operation with the Ministries of Commerce, the Confederation of Icelandic Employers (SA), the Icelandic Association of women Entrepreneurs (FKA), the Icelandic Gender Equality Council (Jafnréttisráđ), and the Centre for Gender Equality (Jafnréttisstofa).

 

In 2006 the Research Centre gathered  information i.a. on gender representation among board directors and top corporate executives for the first time, using an internet based survey, supported by phone interviews and the analysis of existing documentation. Information was again gathered in 2007 and results of both surveys have been published.

 

The main components of the project are as follows:

  • Annual publication of information regarding the number of female board directors and board chairmen in the 100 largest companies in Iceland.
  • Annual publication of information on the number of women among the highest-ranking executives in these companies.
  • Development of additional measurement units for evaluation of achievements in the field of equal rights in companies. These will become the basis for publication of more detailed information on equal rights in companies in the future.
  • The Equality Index is being developed as an indicator of the achievements of each company with regard to gender equality.

 

The goal of the project is also to increase awareness and discussion about the importance of gender equality issues among Icelandic employers, their employees and Icelandic society in general.

 

Annual publication of information on gender equality in companies makes it possible to monitor changes and achievements on a regular basis and track the development of gender balances. In Icelandic companies today board directors and top executives are mostly men. Slowly women have been taking on bigger roles on the corporate scene, but compared to factors such as education levels and labour participation by women, they are still greatly underrepresented in the corporate top layers. The Icelandic Equality Index project is based on the presumption that companies will profit from appointing a higher proportion of women on boards, as well as adding women to the group of high ranking officers. This presumption is well supported by equality studies in other countries, which show that a good gender balance among high ranking officers and board directors is very strongly linked to better financial performance, seen by studying factors such as ROC and TRS.

 

The Research Centre for and Labour Law and equality is an independent academic research institute, with strong team of skilled and experienced research staff working on the project, providing this study with an environment where information can be processed and analysed in an unbiased and scientific way. The Centre enjoys good relations with other institutes and organisations related to gender equality studies and policies, as well as close co-operation with Icelandic businesses.

 

For further information, contact Elín Blöndal, Head of the Research Centre, e-mail:

 

elinblondal@bifrost.is

 

Háskólinn á Bifröst | 311 Borgarnes | Sími: 433 3000 | Fax: 433 3001 | bifrost@bifrost.is