Gender Diversity in Danish Management

Clara Hjelt & Sofie Odby

Student thesis: Master thesis


This thesis explores how a new management standard for diversity and equality can contribute to increasing gender diversity in Danish management. To address this issue, we rely on a hermeneutic philosophy of science and combine theoretical frameworks grounded in organisational theory and institutional theory. We apply an explorative lens and inductively engage in a qualitative study including empirical interviews with eleven expert or elite interviewees. The first part of the analysis diagnostically investigates the barriers to increase gender diversity in Danish management. Based on the findings, the second part of the analysis explores the opportunities and limitations of CSR-related management standards as well as what conditions enable such a standard to be institutionalised. We find that the coming management standard for diversity and equality has limited potential to solve the deep structural and socially embedded barriers, which is why we turn to discuss the implications of hard law versus soft law. Moreover, the analysis finds that there are limited possibilities for the institutionalisation of the coming management standard in the Danish society, as policymakers and other institutions create few incentives for organisations to adopt the standard. Therefore, we find it interesting to discuss how issue framing and narratives about standards might mobilise institutional support. Finally, we turn to a normative discussion of whose responsibility it is to eliminate the barriers to increase gender diversity in Danish management. We find that the upcoming management standard is not able to spur fundamental change at a societal level on its own, due to the underlying structural barriers and lack of support to solve the issue among various institutional actors in Denmark. Though, we conclude that the upcoming management standard has the potential to contribute to the solution, as it brings legitimacy and attention to the problem and provides organisations with concrete tools for how to increase the gender balance in top management. However, this requires support from both influential corporations and policymakers, which is why we argue that these actors share the responsibility to actively contribute to increasing gender equality and diversity in Danish management. Our research contributes to and extends on gender diversity literature in a Danish context, as it investigates an unexplored field by applying a novel approach for how to solve the complex issue of the lacking gender diversity in Danish management

EducationsMSc in Business Administration and Organizational Communication, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2021
Number of pages131