More work needed on women moving into senior leadership roles
Listed companies here have on average 32% female representation at board level, new figures from the Balance for Better Business Review Group show.
For the first time, Ireland is included in the list of top 10 countries in the EU for female board representation.
However, the pace of progress in achieving gender balance at the senior leadership level is slower here.
At 25%, representation at the top levels of ISEQ companies is well behind the 30% target by the end of this year. Meanwhile at 21%, other listed companies are also behind their 25% end of year target.
Today’s figures also show that, with one exception, women continue to be underrepresented in key Board and leadership decision making positions.
While women make up half of all Senior Independent Directors, representation of women in Chair roles has fallen from 8.1% in September 2022 to 2.8% this month, with no female Chairs among the ISEQ 20.
They also reveal that three in 36 CEOs across listed Irish companies are women, having fallen from 11.1% to 8.3% in March this year.
But women make up only 14.8% of Chief Financial Officers among the same cohort of Irish business.
Balance for Better Business Co-Chair Julie Sinnamon said today’s figures released show that progress continues to be made in terms of the number of women at Board level.
“This is a welcome development and speaks to the positive impact of a voluntary, business-led approach in achieving progress,” Julie Sinnamon said.
“However, it’s also clear that the ISEQ20 and other listed companies need to do more to ensure that progress does not plateau at the number of women on boards,” she said.
“That’s why we’re encouraging businesses to see gender balance as part of a wider cultural change within an organisation. By assessing organisational risk, establishing an ongoing dialogue and using a strategic plan to assess future leadership, businesses can make the necessary cultural and behavioural changes to see more women progress into key decision-making roles,” she stated.
“While progress to date at the Board level of Irish business is to be welcomed, there is still much more work to do to ensure that women can advance into senior leadership roles which are still predominantly held by men,” Balance for Better Business Co-Chair Aongus Hegarty added.
Taoiseach and co-founder of Balance for Better Business Leo Varadkar said that while it is encouraging to see steady progress when it comes to the number of women at the Board level of Irish business, it is less encouraging to see slower progress when it comes to key Board and senior leadership positions.
“The transition of two Chairperson roles from women to men at the end of 2022 and the lack of new female chairpersons being appointed has led to a significant drop in the number of women at Chairperson level,” he noted.
“Now, only one of the 36 listed companies has a female Chairperson, while representation of women at CEO level has also dropped from 11.1% in September of 2022, to 8.3% in March this year,” he added.
“As we celebrate International Women’s Day this week, it’s crucial that Irish businesses redouble their efforts to remove the barriers to female progression within the workplace and take a more targeted and strategic approach to achieving gender balance at the highest levels of Irish business,” the Taoiseach stated.