This Article argues that Norway’s Corporate Board Quota Law (“CBQ”) fosters a productive symbiosis between the public and private spheres. Recent studies indicate that higher numbers of women in executive positions result in stronger rates of corporate return on equity (“ROE”). Countries with higher levels of women's political representation also tend to have higher levels of economic growth. Increasing women's workforce participation outside the home can drive overall economic growth. These factors prompted the CBQ's proponents to argue for the economic imperative of women's corporate leadership. The CBQ will not only ameliorate gender inequality, but will bring new life to corporate leadership. Norway feminized capital by engaging the private sector in the public goal of fostering women's corporate leadership. Such policies, if universalized, would fundamentally shift both corporate governance and gender governance. The resulting feminization of transnational corporations could actually reduce gender inequality. This article proceeds in four parts. Part One examines the Norwegian Corporate Board Quota as a comparative endeavor in three subsections. First, it reviews Norway's extensive gender equality legislation to explain the CBQ's context. Second, it discusses the origins and purpose of the law and assesses its enforcement methods in contrast to political representation quotas. Finally, Part One connects these gender equality efforts to Norway's extensive public role in matters viewed as “private” in the United States. The CBQ serves as a launching point to explore this public/private symbiosis for the remainder of the Article. Part Two explores the need to blur the public/private distinction in order to support the public/private symbiosis in the corporate context. Governmental regulation of a traditionally private business decision, such as a corporate board's composition, evokes feminist debate over the public/private dichotomy. These critiques interrogated “the line drawn between the ‘public’ world of government and the ‘private’ world of the home,” arguing for the elimination of such distinctions because they relegate women to the “private” sphere, in which men controlled the domestic sphere. Despite critical differences between the two non-state spheres, the “private” corporate context and the “private” family context, the state's role in each is contested. This public/private theory supports thinking of the CBQ as a primary example of the relationships within two public/private dichotomies, government/business and market/family, which simultaneously develop effective inequality remedies. Part Three explores how private means of capital foster and define the public goal of gender equality. Bolstering women's role in economic development benefits gender equality by clarifying their contribution to the public economy. The CBQ breaches the much-decried “glass ceiling.” While such private efforts may advance gender equality, they may also come to define gender equality, arousing criticism of the commodification and reduction of women's work. Societies in pursuit of greater equality must account for such costs. Part Four explores how public norms influence private action. Private corporations and international financial institutions (“IFIs”) benefit from promoting and managing gender equality. These institutions derive moral legitimacy from the introduction of gender equality into their policy calculus. Corporations attempt to develop similar legitimacy through Corporate Social Responsibility (“CSR”) efforts. Women, men, and capital all benefit from this change, fortifying the corporations and IFIs that steer the world economy. A productive public/private symbiosis requires “public” values, such as economic empowerment for women and men, to institute rules and regulations like the CBQ in the “private” sector.
Darren Rosenblum, Feminizing Capital: A Corporate Imperative, 6 Berkeley Bus. L.J. 55 (2009), http://digitalcommons.pace.edu/lawfaculty/399/.