Swedish Startup Space

Gender Equality Still Virtually Non-Existent At Tech Companies’ Boards of Directors

Written by on March 7, 2016

Tech companies are lagging behind when it comes to the number of women at the board. Klarna and Mathem are the least bad.

The fact that the startup scene is dominated by men is hardly newsworthy nowadays. But a lot of people still reacted to Breakit’s report on the issue a year ago. We revealed that 9 out of 10 board members (article in Swedish) were men at the eleven biggest tech companies in Sweden.

Daniel Ek was one of the prominent figures who commented on the article.

“All of us tech companies are far from good enough at this, that is the simple fact. We have to become a whole lot better at gender equality”, he told Breakit (article in Swedish).

However, nothing has happened over the last year. A new investigation by Breakit shows that the boards of directors still consist of 90 percent men, at the top eleven tech companies. Out of 80 board members, only eight are women. That development is considerably worse than Sweden’s listed companies.

Spotify, which is registered in Luxembourg, has not responded to Breakit’s questions regarding gender inequality at its board of directors. However, documents from the local company registration office reveals that the situation had not changed for the better last fall. Among the board members are the founders Martin Lorentzon and Daniel Ek, as well as Napster co-founder Sean Parker.

The situation looks equally grim at Truecaller, as well as Kinnevik-owned Saltside and bitcoin miner KNC Miner. None of the three companies have a single woman on their board of directors. KNC Miner recently missed the opportunity to recruit a few women when it replaced three board members.

The VOIP-company Rebtel, which was accused of using sexual objectification in an ad last year, also has an all male board.

However, some companies are making progress. Payment solution company Klarna has gone from one to two women at its board, and King gets its first female board member. At Klarna, Sarah McPhee has joined chairwoman Eva Cederbalk. McPhee was previously CEO at the pension company SPP.

After being acquired by Activision Blizzard, King’s board of directors has been replaced by the parent company’s board, where Elaine Wynn is a member.

Payment company Izettle, e-commerce company Fyndiq and eyetracking startup Tobii have all, like King stood still at one female board member each. Mathem is still at the top of the class with two women at its board.

According to the Allbright foundation, which works for increased gender equality in business, the number of female board member at listed companies is increasing faster than ever. Over the last ten years the share of women has gone up by 12 percentage points to 28 percent.

Breakit’s report is based on the latest available documents from Bolagsverket (The Swedish Company Registration Office) and the companies’ own web sites.

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