Gender balance in Irish boardrooms continues to grow as the number of male-only boards declines, a Fine Gael TD has said.
Fine Gael TD for Dublin Mid West, Deputy Emer Higgins, has welcomed progress shown in the fifth annual report from the Balance for Better Business Review Group, which found the number of male-only boards on listed companies in Ireland has reduced from five in 2021 to three in 2022.
The report launched coincides with Equal Pay Day, the day women in Ireland effectively stop earning, relative to men, due to Ireland’s gender pay gap.
Deputy Higgins said, “The reduction in male-only boards among our listed companies is hugely encouraging. It shows that companies really are getting the message about how important it is to have greater gender representation at their top tables.
“As we mark Equal Pay Day, I think it’s important that we celebrate the improvements being made in the corporate world while acknowledging that there is still more to do to make the Irish business landscape more gender diverse.”
Deputy Higgins added, “In terms of today’s report, the percentage of women on ISEQ 20 boards rose to 36% in 2022 which exceeds the target of 30% set for this year, as well as the 33% target for 2023. Our other listed companies have female participation on their boards of 26%, which well exceeds their 2022 target of 22%.
“While things are improving, there is still room to improve the pace of change.
“Today’s report shows that there is just one female Chair represented on the 20 biggest ISEQ-listed companies, and as we mark Equal Pay Day, Ireland still has a gender pay gap of 11.3%.
“We are making substantial change at a national and EU level, but we mustn’t take our eye off the ball because there are still improvements to be made.
“Earlier this year, I brought my Private Member’s Bill, the Irish Corporate Governance (Gender Balance) Bill 2022, to second stage in the Dáil which would require all companies to have 33% of each gender on their board within a year of commencing the legislation, and 40% within three years.
“Many of our ISEQ 20 boards may be close to meeting these targets but our other listed companies are still some way away. I believe my bill would not only quicken the pace of change but would guard against regression in our gender balance numbers and crucially, make all-male boards a thing of the past.
“Balanced boards are integral for representation and the advancement of women in the corporate world. They also lead to better business and financial outcomes and profitability, so the remaining all-male boards are really doing themselves a disservice in this way.
“We need to break the cycle of replacing like with like and encourage organisations to look outside the box when recruiting executive board members. We need to give more women a chance and to start putting the work in now, as many are already doing, to ensure the talent pool of board-ready women only gets bigger,” concluded Deputy Higgins.