Denmark is well known as a socially liberal country where minority groups are generally treated well. That said, Danish society is largely homogenous, so people of colour who move to the country may find themselves standing out more than they're used to.

Read on to learn more about diversity and inclusion in Denmark.

Accessibility in Denmark

Danish law prohibits the discrimination of people based on physical, sensory, intellectual, or mental disabilities. Denmark aims to be a world leader when it comes to amenities for the disabled, and has a programme called “Accessibility for All” which aims to make it easier for disabled people to travel and participate in everyday life. The Danish government, along with private companies, has taken initiatives to improve accessibility for people with disabilities and ensure equal access to opportunities.

Denmark is largely accessible for those in wheelchairs and those with sensory disabilities. Most road crossings have audio cues to signal when it's safe to cross. All buses have a manual wheelchair ramp and wheelchair taxis are available.

Most metro and train stations are accessible via a lift or elevator, and it’s possible to wheel a chair onto the train from the platform. Assistance can be provided at the train station if it is booked at least 12 hours in advance. Travel companions, such as assistants or guide dogs, can accompany disabled passengers on public transport at a reduced price.

Those unable to travel by public transport due to disability can register for door-to-door transportation in a specially equipped minibus known as Movia Flexihandicap.

Companies are encouraged to employ people with disabilities, and there is a compensation system in Denmark that ensures employers are not faced with any extra expense when employing those with a disability.

Useful resources

LGBTQ+ in Denmark

Denmark is one of the most socially liberal countries in the world and has some of the most progressive laws supporting the LGBTQ+ community. Same-sex sexual activity has been legal since 1933, and in 1989 Denmark became the first country in the world to legally recognise same-sex unions. Same-sex marriage has been possible since 2012. In 2014, Denmark became the first country to allow legal change of gender without a medical expert statement.

Copenhagen is well known as a gay-friendly city and is famous for its annual Pride event. There is a vibrant, open and tolerant gay scene, with gay people welcomed into straight bars and clubs. The old Latin Quarter of the city is the hub of the LGBTQ+ nightlife, but it’s a small due to the level of integration in Copenhagen.

Further reading

Gender equality in Denmark

Denmark is one of the world's most gender equal countries, and Danish society values equal opportunities for women and girls. The country is ranked second in the European Institute for Gender Equality's Gender Equality Index, only just behind Sweden. Equality has long been a cornerstone of the Danish welfare state, and today the percentage of Danish women working outside the home is one of the highest in the world.

A gender pay gap remains, however, with men earning approximately 13 percent more than women. The majority of leadership roles are held by men, earning them better pay.

Further reading

Women in leadership in Denmark

Although most Danes believe that gender parity has been achieved, only 29 percent of leadership roles are taken by women, a fair bit lower than the EU average of 34 percent. Even in progressive Denmark, most homes have quite traditional gender roles, with mothers viewed as the primary caregivers and often also primarily responsible for most household chores.

The number of women holding board positions in Danish-listed companies is 22 percent, and there are just six female CEOs among the 131 listed companies.

In November 2022, Denmark re-elected Mette Frederiksen, their second female Prime Minister, and elected 79 female MPs, a record 44 percent of the total. Denmark was also officially ruled by Queen Margrethe II for 52 years, prior to her abdication in 2024. She was the country’s first female monarch in six centuries.

Further reading

Mental health awareness in Denmark

Expats can be at greater risk of mental health issues than the general population, especially depression and anxiety, which can be exacerbated by loneliness and the stress of living in new surroundings. International companies are becoming more aware of mental health issues, and many have adjusted their policies to provide better support. This includes ensuring that mental illness is well covered by the company’s chosen employee healthcare schemes, as well as promoting knowledge and destigmatising mental health illnesses by holding in-house workshops.

In theory, Denmark offers free and equal access to psychiatric treatment for all residents, but in practice, many Danes find that these services are hard to access, and many expats find them all but impossible to access due to long wait times and language barriers. The funding for the Danish mental health system is still below the EU average.

The general practitioner (GP) acts as the gatekeeper to all healthcare services, including psychiatric treatment. Many expats and international assignees working in Denmark seek the help of a private English-speaking therapists or psychiatrists instead. A good health insurer should be able to provide a list of options.

Useful resources

Unconscious bias training in Denmark

Following a recent study that revealed that many people with a minority background feel discriminated against when in the workplace, the Municipality of Copenhagen launched a programme to promote ethnic diversity in the labour market. This included workshops and seminars where companies were able to learn more about these issues.

The concept of unconscious bias is an implicit set of often stereotyped ideas an individual carries about groups of people different from themselves. These ideas are not purposefully adopted but rather develop subtly over time, and people tend to hold unconscious biases about groups they never or rarely come into contact with.

Unconscious bias can profoundly affect both personal and work conditions. In the workplace, unchecked bias undermines vital aspects of the company, with negative effects on employee performance, retention and recruitment. In a bid to create a better work environment, many companies are beginning to institute unconscious bias training. There are also several online resources that can be used to improve self-awareness regarding bias.

Useful resources

Diversification of the workforce in Denmark

Most progressive companies in Denmark find that having a diverse workforce can be a strength rather than a challenge and understand that a mix of nationalities can promote creativity and innovation. Expats tend to find it easier when joining a company where there are other foreign nationalities within the workforce, making it easier to form social connections, compared to companies where there is a close-knit group of local staff. Expats moving to Denmark should make an effort to learn about Danish cultural etiquette and local business practices before starting work.

Spencer Stuart conducted a survey of the top 25 companies in Denmark and found that they had on average 3.4 nationalities represented on their boards. Over half of board directors were foreign, and almost 37 percent non-Nordics.

Safety in Denmark

Denmark is one of the safest countries in the world to live in, and most expats find that the locals are very welcoming toward foreigners. Women have no reason to be concerned when moving here, it is easy to get around the major cities, the transport is safe and efficient, and the roads are lit up well at night. Of course, there is some petty crime, and it’s sensible to take normal precautions as in any country.

Calendar initiatives in Denmark

4 February – World Cancer Day
February – Winter Pride, Copenhagen
28 February – Rare Disease Day
March – TB Awareness Month
8 March – International Women’s Day
17 May – International Day Against Homophobia
19 May – Global Accessibility Awareness Day
August – Copenhagen Pride Parade
10 September – World Suicide Prevention Day
October – Breast Cancer Awareness Month
10 October –World Mental Health Day
14 November – World Diabetes Day
1 December – World AIDS Day

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