Women were 26.5% of chairs and members of boards of directors in Icelandic enterprises at the end of 2020. In boards of directors of companies, where the number of employees was less than 50, the proportion was 26.2%, but 34.1% in boards of companies with 50 employees or more on average in 2020. For comparison, the proportion of women in boards of directors of companies with 50 employees or more was 15.4% in 2008 and 9.5% in 1999.

In 2010, a law was passed for companies of 50 employees or more that stated that when there are 3 board members, the board should contain both men and women, and for boards of 4 or more members, the proportion of women should be 40%-60%. This law dealt with both public and private limited companies, cooperative societies and unlimited partnerships. In the case of private limited companies, the law furthermore stated that boards of 2 directors should also contain a man and a woman. This law came into effect in September 2013.

For the first time, Statistics Iceland is now publishing statistics on the gender of board members by legal form of activity and the size of the board of directors. Looking at companies with 50 employees or more in 2020, the proportion of women in boards of 4 members or more was approximately 40%, both for public and private limited companies. In boards of 3 members, the proportion was 35.0% for public limited companies and 28.1% for private limited companies, and for private limited companies with 2 board members the proportion was 22.8%.

The proportion of women in boards of companies increased from 2008 to 2014, but has reached a plateau since then. The proportion of women in boards of directors increases with both the size of the boards, and size of the companies (measured in number of employees), and is higher in public limited companies than in private limited companies.

Proportion of women in boards of directors 2008-2020
   <50 employees >=50 employees
Number of board membersLegal form20082012201620202008201220162020
2Private limited company28.530.731.933.47.115.519.122.8
3Public limited company19.923.825.428.515.824.131.335.0
3Private limited company24.124.425.125.812.517.628.228.1
4 or morePublic limited company15.124.629.029.916.424.939.639.9
4 or morePrivate limited company24.825.227.426.118.930.336.140.4

For companies of 50 employees or more, Statistics Iceland is now producing statistics for the number of companies that did or did not comply with the law that took effect in 2013.

Looking at companies of 50 employees or more, companies with a mixed board of directors have been steadily increasing in number over the last 12 years. In 2008, the proportion of companies that had at least one board member of each gender (in boards of 2 or 3 directors), or that had a proportion of women ranging between 40% and 60% (for boards of 4 directors or more), was between 14% (private limited companies with boards of 2 directors) to 39% (public limited companies with boards of 3 directors). In 2020, the same proportion ranged from 74% (private limited companies with boards of 3 directors) to 88% (public limited companies with boards of 3 directors), depending on legal form and size of the board of directors. An exception is private limited companies with boards of 2 directors, where the number of companies having mixed boards of directors was only 37%.

The proportion of women as managers of enterprises in 2020 was 23.4%, continuing a slight but steady increase since 1999. Proportion of women as chairs of the board was 24.3% in 2020.

Data on the number of managers, chairs and members of Board of Directors are presented by gender and age, economic activity, size of enterprises, legal form, and size of the board of directors. Since the last update, there has been additional information on the activity of enterprises in 2018 and 2019. The tables for 2018 and 2019 have been updated accordingly.

Statistics