Female parity | Land of the Vikings best place for women to work

Land of the Vikings best place for women to work

Norway has been declared the best place in Europe for women to work. It tops the polls for the high numbers of female leaders together with favourable maternity leave and pay benefits.

Marking International Women’s Day (8th March), the findings by digital PR company, Reboot Online set out to expose the best destinations in Europe for women looking to pursue a career abroad. The findings are based upon a points-based index system which analysed the number of women in leadership positions, female employment, the Gender Gap Index, and maternity policies in each country.

Norway scoops the prize

Topping the charts is Norway with a total gender equality score of 7.11 out of a possible 10. The Scandinavian country is further highlighted for its 2023 high percentage of women in leadership positions (7.14/10). Norway also scores highly in the Gender Gap Index (8.80/10). This compares to the UK which only ranked sixth with a total gender equality score of 5.78/10. In some good news for women working in the UK, however, it did stand out as having the highest levels of female representation in leadership positions in Europe, including CEOs, executives, non-executives, presidents, and board members within its largest listed companies (7.20/10).

Looking for more

As well as this, the UK has the highest five-year surge in this category (8.33/10), underscoring significant and continued progress in elevating the representation of women across leadership roles. This trend continues with a high level of women aged between 16-65 in employment (8.43/10). In similar news the Government-based FTSE Women Leaders Review recently mirrored these findings, reporting that the number of jobs held by women in the FTSE 350 increased by two percentage points last year to 42.1 per cent.

Findings from the World Economic Forum (WEF), Global Gender Gap Report, 2023 also ranks Norway highly. It sits amongst nine other countries including: Iceland, Finland, New Zealand, Sweden, Germany, Nicaragua, Nambia and Lithuania all of which have closed at least 80% of their gap. The WEF found that Iceland takes the top position and continues to be the only country to have closed more than 90% of its gender gap. This compares to the Reboot Online’s report which finds Iceland sitting just beneath Norway in the best places for women to work in Europe.

At the bottom of the poll is France with a total gender equality score of 5.56/10.

UK exposed as having poorer than average maternity policies

The outlook for expectant mothers in the UK isn’t favourable, however. It ranked the third-worst score in Europe for its maternity policies (3.35/10), with a 43% lower score than Spain (5.96/10). Statutory maternity pay in the UK is among the lowest in Europe, highlighting the further support needed for working mothers to achieve true gender parity in the workforce.

The UK’s Statutory maternity pay is paid for 39 weeks. In the first six weeks mums receive 90% of their average weekly earnings and for the following 33 weeks, £172.48 or 90% of average weekly earnings (whichever is lower).

Parental benefits in Norway are calculated based on income for the last calendar year before leave starts. This calculation is performed by Nav, the authority overseeing welfare and employment in Norway. Depending on the choice of 49 weeks at 100% or 59 weeks at 80%, the benefits are calculated as a percentage of annual income up to a certain cap.

More can be done

Speaking about the results CEO and co-founder, Naomi Aharony, says: "Our latest analysis paints a picture of both progress and persistent challenges for women in the European workforce. Countries like Norway, Iceland, and Finland continue to lead the charge towards gender equality, showcasing promising advancements. However, the stagnation of nations like Italy and Turkey serves as a stark reminder that systemic barriers still hinder women's advancement in Europe.

“Despite strides forward, we cannot overlook the lingering disparities in leadership representation, pay equity, and support for working mothers. As we navigate the aftermath of the pandemic and its impact on employment, it's imperative that we prioritise policies and practices that foster inclusive workplaces and empower women to thrive professionally."

International Women’s Day, was celebrated on 8 March 2024, it joined the United Nations in celebrating under the theme, Invest in women: Accelerate progress.

You are currently previewing this article.

This is the last preview available to you for the next 30 days.

To access more news, features, columns and opinions every day, create a free myGrapevine account.