Showing posts with label Norway. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Norway. Show all posts

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Europe Takes Note as Norway Smashes Through the Glass Ceiling

I guess I'm just not ready to let go of my admiration for Scandinavian thought leadership.

In 2010, my travels really taught me how America lags the world in female representation in government and industry.  America is currently ranked 85th in the world for elected female leadership. Yes, America, that wasn't a typo.  It was an 8 and then a 5 to make us 85th out of 195 countries in the world. Mediocre.

Deutsche-Welle, the German media company, has published a story that reminds me while American women are talking a good game, other women are actually making gender diversity happen.

Norwegian women have "smashed through the glass ceiling." How? By getting their government to tie corporate board gender diversity to a company's ability to be competitive for a government contract or listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange.  Well played, ladies.  I admire your obvious business acumen in executing global leadership in gender equity. Kudos also belong to the chivalrous conservative male politician in Norway who introduced the legislation. 

American women, there is hope.  Less than a decade ago, Norwegian women were represented in only 7% of their corporate board seats.  We could turn this around by following their lead.  If not, we're slated to fall even further behind as the rest of Europe adopts measures similar to the Norwegians.  The American Dream, if you're female, might be more-likely found in Europe.

Click on my title to read the article.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Visiting the Nobel Museum

Freezing yet Cheerful
I'm in Stockholm!

A scientist friend told me once that a Nobel Prize in Sciences was a dated concept.  He said most breakthroughs require an ensemble, a team, and the idea of one guy toiling passionately for years in his lab until one day he says, "Eureka!" is overly dramatic.  He felt it was not the likely way big discoveries will happen in the 21st century.  

That may be, but I found, like most tourists, that visiting the Nobel Museum was #1 on my list of things to do in Stockholm.  To me, the Nobel Prize represents goodness over evil, enlightenment over superstition, knowledge over anti-intellectualism, and excellence over mediocrity. 

I respond to the innovation and thought leadership I see from the Scandinavian countries. Having figured out what works for their countries and developed themselves to the highest degree, as societies they seem free to operate as aristocrats who no longer have to worry about earning a living and can move on to higher, more noble concerns such as how to advance the human race. The Nobel Prize is just the most prominent example.

A beautiful reclining Buddha
displayed as part of an art exhibit
at the Nobel Museum
celebrating the philosophy
of the Dalia Lama

Beautiful and inspiring sentiments
on a garden bench
also part of the art exhibit
Sculpture formed out of
discarded Manhattan phone books

I loved not only seeing the art exhibit but the short movies about each Nobel Prize winner and the other movie about creative environments that breed innovation and excellence without apology.  There wasn't an exhibit on how to raise a Nobel Prize winner. I suppose by the time people win, their parents aren't alive to celebrate with them and to be asked how they did it.  That's probably not so important.  I don't know about you, but I've always observed there is no shortage of worthy scientists, instead there's a shortage of funding for all their great work.

The Nobel Museum is in a stately old building set amidst Old Town Stockholm.  I had to tease the front desk clerk that the big clock in the middle of the exhibit space was dead and not working in a building devoted to celebrating excellence. "I know, she grinned, we've tried for three years to get it to run properly. No luck."  The irony made me smile. Maybe they should offer a prize.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Celebrating Those Who Celebrate the Best In Humanity

2010 Nobel Peace Prize Winner Liu Xiaobo (right)
 and his wife Liu Xia (left)

Last week about this time I was watching the live coverage of the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony.  Did you happen to catch it?  It was moving.  Apparently CNN International does a live interview with the recipient immediately after they receive their prize.  China did not allow this year's recipient, a Chinese citizen, to travel to Oslo to receive his prize (note to Communist Central Committees - anytime your decision puts you and Adolf Hitler in the same historical footnote, you might want to consider alternative viewpoints before making the final call).

CNN International was left to use their entire Nobel Peace Prize interview hour to discuss with various people what human rights are like in China.  If you were watching, like me, did you come to the same conclusion that all of us really know nothing of what is going on in China?

CNN International mentioned that the People's Republic employs 50,000 people just to keep the Internet censored at all times.  It made me think about how many goods I purchase from China (especially since every country's manufacturing seems to have been farmed out there) and how little these purchases reflect my values if they are being manufactured in a tolitarian state. The first step in addressing a problem is awareness.

It impressed me that despite all of its economic power, the majority of the world would not be bullied into ignoring the ceremony based on China's demands.  It impressed me that Norway is charged with administering the Nobel Peace Prize because Alfred Nobel admired that Norway had never declared war on another country (check out their wealth indicators - peace pays).  It impressed me that such a tiny, little country has found a way to capture the world's imagination, to get people like me to slow down for an afternoon, and to consider where we as a species are going.  Norway, there is nothing small about your ideas.

To honor the Norweigan people for their ability to be the thought leaders of the world on the subject of peace, I want to do my small part today and share something I never heard of or read until I moved to Europe.  It is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights created by the United Nations 61 years ago.

Get a cup of coffee, take a few moments, and ask yourself if your country measures up on every article.  Did you even know this Declaration existed? Did you even know that some of these items were your rights as a human being as decided by the peoples of the Earth? Were you surprised by any of the human rights declared?  I was surprised by Article 16, the whole section on marriage and family. 

How can we as individuals move our global leaders closer to honoring these rights rather than ignoring them? Do you feel your own country is delivering on these globally universal human rights?
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