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EQUALITY

Danish government changes stance on EU business equality quota

Denmark’s government now supports an EU directive aimed at boosting the number of women in senior business roles, in a reversal of its earlier stance.

a boardroom
Denmark now supports an EU directive aiming to put more women in company boardrooms. Photo by Nastuh Abootalebi on Unsplash

The government was previously against an EU directive which calls for at least 40 percent of company boards to be women. There must also be 40 percent men on company boards. The directive applies to companies with more than 250 people on their payrolls.

But that has now changed with the current government reversing its previous position as well as that of several Danish governments which preceded it, newspaper Jyllands-Posten reports.

“The argument against this was that we believed we could easily promote progress ourselves [without the directive, ed.]. So an EU law was not necessary. But the status is that nothing has really happened,” minister for equality Trine Bramsen told the newspaper.

“We don’t think it’s going fast enough. That’s why we now wish to join the EU position on this area,” she said.

The EU directive states that companies should select board members based on set and neutral criteria, according to Jyllands-Posten’s report. That means that, should two candidates be equally qualified, the one from the underrepresented sex should be preferred for the position.

Data from Bramsen’s ministry show that the proportion of women on the boards of 190 of the largest stock market companies was 26 percent in 2021. That is an increase from 20 percent in 2017. But that increase is not sufficient, the minister said.

Governments in Germany and the Netherlands both also recently dropped opposition to the directive, according to Jyllands-Posten.

The Danish government will soon present a bill proposal setting down new equality criteria for Danish company boards, Bramsen also said.

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HOUSING

Denmark reduces number of areas classed as ’parallel societies’

The number of underprivileged areas termed ‘parallel societies’ by the Danish government has fallen for the third consecutive year following an annual update.

Denmark reduces number of areas classed as ’parallel societies’

The updated list of ‘parallel societies’ and vulnerable housing areas was published by the Ministry of the Interior and Housing on Thursday.

The number of housing areas classed as parallel societies falls from 12 in 2021 to 10 in the new list.

Three areas were removed from the list (Aldersrogade and Tingbjerg/Utterslevhuse, both in Copenhagen, Agervang in Holbæk), while one was added (Askerød in Greve).

The number of ‘vulnerable housing areas’ (udsatte boligområder) and ‘redevelopment areas’ (omdannelsesområder) is also lower than on the 2021 list.

A ‘redevelopment area’ or omdannelsesområde is the new term replacing ‘hard ghetto’, used for areas which have been on the parallel societies list for five consecutive years.

The terms ‘parallel society’ and ‘underprivileged housing area’ have replaced ‘ghetto’ in the government’s official descriptions, after the latter word was scrapped because it was considered to be derogatory towards marginalised areas.

The lists are important because included areas can be subject to special treatment under Danish laws.

To qualify as ‘parallel societies’, housing areas of more than 1,000 people, where more than half are of “non-Western” origin, must fulfil two of four criteria.

Areas that fulfil the criteria are then required to take measures to combat parallel societies under a 2018 law originally titled the “Ghetto Law”.

The four criteria are: more than 40 percent of residents are unemployed; more than 60 percent of 39-50 year-olds do not have an upper secondary education; crime rates three times higher than the national average; residents have a gross income 55 percent lower than the regional average.

In addition to redevelopment obligations, areas on the list can be subjected to special treatment under the law, including stricter punishments for specified crimes and a requirement for small children to attend daycare.

READ ALSO: EU court to judge residents’ discrimination case against Danish government

The decline in the number of housing areas on the three lists is a positive development, according to Solveig Råberg Tingey, CEO of BL, an organisation representing subsidised housing associations in Denmark.

“The positive trend is the result of a lot of great local work over several years with efforts in relation to jobs and education and social schemes,” Tingey told news wire Ritzau.

“It’s very important that we continue this work in the coming years,” she said.

The list of underprivileged housing areas is updated every year on December 1st.

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