Business Irish

Friday 22 September 2017

Central Bank to push for more women on boards

Louise McBride

Louise McBride

Banks and insurers could have to appoint more women to their boards under new rules being examined by the Central Bank.

The new rules, which set out how a company is governed, are expected to kick in by the end of the year.

The Central Bank is examining whether – and how – its corporate governance rules for financial institutions should be changed to ensure there is more "diversity" in boardrooms.

Along with women, this could lead to more young people – as well as people from outside Ireland – sitting on the boards of Irish banks and insurers.

"Diversity encompasses many elements including professional and educational background, nationality, age and gender," said a spokeswoman for the Central Bank.

In its consultation paper on the proposed new rules, the Central Bank says: "In recent years, boardroom diversity has been a much discussed topic by regulators, lawmakers, research institutions and industry bodies globally. Although diversity encompasses many elements, much of the international discussion has been in the area of gender diversity."

The paper explains there are different ways to improve gender diversity on boards, including the introduction of quotas, and a requirement on companies to take the number of female directors into consideration when appointing members to a board.

The European Commission has proposed new laws, which, if passed, would ensure that at least 40 per cent of the non-executive directors sitting on the boards of publicly listed companies would be from the "under-represented gender".

The new rules could also force directors to turn up "in person" for every board meeting. "Due to the location, physical attendance may not always be possible, in which case videoconferencing or teleconferencing is permissible," says the consultation paper.

The Central Bank spokeswoman declined to say if the bank was concerned that there were not enough women on the boards of financial institutions in Ireland.

Sunday Independent

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