Norway to Mandate 40% Quota for Women on Company Boards
Workspan Daily
June 23, 2023

As reported by Bloomberg News, Norway’s government reached an agreement with the business lobby and unions to force large and medium-sized companies to phase in 40% female representation on their boards within five years. 

The plan, believed to be the first of its kind globally, will initially cover about 8,000 companies next year and expand to encompass about 20,000 companies with more than 30 employees by 2028, the government said on Monday. Firms with more than 100 million kroner ($9.4 million) in total operating and financial income will be covered initially, a threshold that will drop to include those with income in excess of 50 million kroner.  

Norway’s government determined that the improvement in gender balance in board rooms has been too slow, growing from 15% female representation two decades ago to just 20% currently. Bloomberg noted Norway is not part of the European Union, where the European Parliament passed a law last November requiring 40% of executive directors to be female or 33% among all directors.  

“This is a turning point for equality work in business in Norway,” Trade and Industry Minister Jan Christian Vestre said in the statement. Business and unions “share the government’s impatience, and I am glad that together we have found a means of action that can speed up the work.” 

TikTok’s COO Steps Down   

Amid its uncertain future in the United States, TikTok, the popular short-form video app, said on Thursday that its chief operating officer (COO) was leaving the company, the New York Times reported.  

V. Pappas, who joined TikTok as COO to run its North American business in 2018, will move into a strategic advisory role for the company. Adam Presser, TikTok’s chief of staff, will become its head of operations.  

“This is an important time for our company,” Shou Chew, TikTok’s CEO, said in an announcement, “and I am confident that we are in a strong position to match the opportunities ahead of us.” 

TikTok’s leadership is changing at a pivotal time, as the app faces tremendous pressure over its ownership by the Chinese company ByteDance and questions around its data and privacy practices, the Times noted. Montana’s governor recently signed a bill banning TikTok in the state as of next year, and the app has been prohibited at universities, at government agencies and by the military. The Biden administration has also pushed for a potential sale of the app to satisfy national security concerns. 

The intense scrutiny on TikTok has put a spotlight on its top executives, who have been asked to publicly defend the company and its practices to lawmakers. Chew appeared before Congress for a heated hearing in March after senators grilled Pappas in September. The appearance by Pappas was one of the first times a leader at TikTok had to publicly answer to lawmakers about its ties to Beijing. 

Study: Productivity, Customer Service Lag from Remote Workers  

A recent survey by researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York found that productivity fell 4% among customer service employees who moved from office to remote work at the start of the pandemic.  

“Remote work not only reduces the quantity but also the quality of calls,” the researchers noted.  

The study was conducted among 1,965 call center workers at a Fortune 500 company. Their data ranged from a period before the pandemic through post-pandemic after a shift to remote work.  

The researchers also found that career trajectories sink for remote workers. Prior to the pandemic, their promotion rates were just half of their in-office peers as they engaged in fewer training sessions and held fewer one-on-one meetings with managers. After call-center offices closed, however, the gap in promotion rates disappeared.  

Arm & Hammer Executive Loses Stock Options Over Deleted Texts   

As reported by the Wall Street Journal, one of the top executives at Church & Dwight was stripped of $200,000 in stock awards because he deleted texts on his personal phone that the company wanted to review for an undisclosed legal matter.  

Barry Bruno, the chief marketing officer at the company behind brands that include Arm & Hammer, OxiClean and Trojan condoms, didn’t follow the company’s instructions to preserve texts on his phone, Church & Dwight said in a May securities filing.  

Church & Dwight said in the filing that while it was able to retrieve a significant number of deleted communications after help from outside counsel, it required Bruno to forfeit some of his stock options for violating company policies.  

“We do not believe the underlying legal matter is material,” a spokesperson for the company said. When asked why the company would make the disclosure given that the legal matter isn’t material, the spokesperson said it had compensation implications for a named executive officer. 

Bruno, who has been with the company since 2013, had 2022 total compensation of $1.3 million, including about $661,000 in stock options and $558,000 in salary and bonus, according to Church & Dwight’s mid-March proxy filing.  

While many boards have policies to claw back compensation from executives for misconduct or other reasons, such moves are rare and often don’t go smoothly. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) finalized new clawback rules earlier this year.  

Under the rules, companies must disclose any clawbacks in the annual proxy statement filed with the SEC at the end of the year. Church & Dwight’s disclosure was unusual, the Journal noted, because it was disclosed midyear.  

“They’ve been very explicit here,” Robin Ferracone, founder of the compensation consulting firm Farient Advisors, told the Journal. “I commend this company for transparency.”  

Editor’s Note: Additional Content 

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