SWEDEN – Andra AP-fonden, the Second Swedish National Pension Fund, AP2, says not enough women are being appointed to senior management positions at Swedish companies.

According to AP2’s latest index of female representation, the number of women represented on the board of publicly listed companies has increased over the last five years from 6.1% to 17.7% in 2006. In May 2005, the figure was 15.9%.

The fund’s findings were based on research by Nordic Investor Services.

“The broad base of women appointed as board directors is growing, but very slowly,” an AP2 spokesperson told IPE.

The index – launched following much talk in the industry to improve female representation in the corporate sector – also revealed that the number of women in executive management committee roles at publicly listed firms has remained largely unchanged at around 12% since 2002.

There has also been a very slight rise in the number of female executive managers in private sector businesses with numbers hovering just above the 20% mark.

This year, AP2 also evaluated how many female students were studying for a career in commerce and law. Results since 2002 show a steady increase in numbers, which has contributed to the overall rise in the numbers of women represented in senior management.

However, there is little correlation between a larger amount of women studying commerce and law, and the smaller amount represented in management.

“The recruit base is growing but we are losing a lot,” said the spokesperson.

“We can see that the schools are not the problem. They are taking their exams but still we have not so many working as managers in the private sector and listed companies.”

In May 2005, AP2 reported that the numbers of women recruited as board directors of publicly listed companies and members of executive management committees were falling.

At the time of these results, former AP2 chief executive Lars Idermark stated that these figures were a “cause for serious concern”, and urged institutional shareholders, corporate managements, personnel departments, universities and university colleges, politicians and private individuals to utilise the potential represented by recruiting women to corporate managements and boards.

AP2 is currently headed by chief executive officer Eva Halvarsson. She joined in February this year from the Swedish Ministry of Industry, Employment and Communications where she was head of state enterprises.

According to a ‘Financial Times’ article earlier this week, the use of quotas to boost women’s numbers in the boardroom “provokes deep hostility” from business. These “special help” tactics have also been greeted with scepticism by women directors.

However, according to data on women’s representation in Western Europe’s top boardrooms, quotas are though to be the most effective – if not only - means for change, said the report.