Irish businesses have made important progress in achieving gender balance

Balance for Better Business Co-Chairs Julie Sinnamon and Aongus Hegarty.
Balance for Better Business Co-Chairs Julie Sinnamon and Aongus Hegarty.

The fourth report of the Balance for Better Business Review Group shows that Irish businesses have made important progress in achieving gender balance at Board level within the past year in Ireland. The report launched  today by the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar TD and the Balance for Better Business Co-Chairs Julie Sinnamon and Aongus Hegarty.

The report from the Government established initiative shows that the overall trends at Board level are positive, although concern remains around progress at senior leadership level.

In 2021, the percentage of women on the Boards of ISEQ 20 companies rose to 31%, up from 18% meaning that the top publicly listed companies in Ireland are well on track to achieve the 33% goal by the end of 2023.

For other listed companies, the percentage of women on Boards is now at 20%, hitting the target set for the end of 2021 and up from 9.6% in early 2018. For large Irish companies, the percentage of women on Boards is 22%, only narrowly missing the 23% target set for the end of 2021.

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Commenting on the report, the Tánaiste said:

“It’s encouraging to see further progress has been made this year and I’m especially pleased that we have reached the interim target of having 30% female representation on the boards of the ISEQ20 companies. In 2018, the average was only 18%, so this is significant progress, however it is a far cry from the equal representation we aspire to and clearly more needs to be done.

“Women are still underrepresented in executive director roles and progress to rectify this issue has been too slow. There are still five listed companies with all-male boards. Change takes time, but the progress made shows what can be achieved when companies focus on making change happen. I hope next year to see greater progress on senior leadership targets.”

While the ISEQ20 companies have exceeded their 2021 target for female representation at senior leadership level, other listed companies and large Irish owned private companies have both missed their targets for the end of 2021.
Although it has been a stated target of Balance for Better Business that no listed companies should have an all-male board, there are still five (13%) listed companies with all-male boards.

“This year, Ireland takes the lead as the country that has made the largest percentage-point gain over the six-year period. In Ireland’s case, the percentage of women on ISEQ-20 boards has more than doubled over the six-year period.” – BoardEx, Global Gender Balance report 2021

Click here to view the Fourth Report