Now defunct, the bill would have required listed firms and state-owned companies to have at least 40 per cent female representation on their board of directors or face fines of between 250,000 kronor (NZ$50,260) and five million kronor (NZ$1 million).
Enterprise and innovation minister Mikael Damberg had intended to table the bill at the end of February but the ruling Social Democrat-Green coalition said support was insufficient, despite the Left Party’s backing. As a result, Damberg said he would no longer be pushing forward with the proposal.
"Things are moving far too slowly when it comes to gender equality on company boards, but what with this announcement, the government won't proceed with a bill, because the necessary parliamentary conditions are not there," he told the TT news agency.
Had the legislation gone ahead, Sweden would not have been the first European country to implement the quota – France, Germany and the Netherlands have all introduced, or are in the process of introducing, similar laws.
The trend follows a 2012 report by the European Commission which set a target of 40 per cent female representation for 5,000 large corporations listed in the EU. The commission suggested the goal be met in 2020 in the private sector and in 2018 in the public sector.
Currently, the proportion of women on Swedish boards is around 32 per cent – notably higher than New Zealand’s 17 per cent but still short of the commission’s 40 per cent target.
The Swedish government has scrapped its plan to introduce gender quotas to the boardroom after the proposed legislation was met with resistance in a parliamentary committee.