Co-ops must modernise, warns ICOS boss as new figures reveal just 2pc of directors are women

TJ Flanagan, ICOS CEO
TJ Flanagan, ICOS CEO
Claire Fox

Claire Fox

The future of the co-op movement is in jeopardy because of the lack of women and young people in decision-making positions, Irish Co-operative Organisation Society (ICOS) CEO TJ Flanagan has said.

Just 10 of the 500 directors in the country's 30 largest co-ops are women, while the average age of board members is 60.

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Mr Flanagan stated that the figures put "the future sustainability of the co-operative model at risk".

"Those figures are to our shame. We have an industry which has leaders, but no disrespect to them, they have a median age of around 60.

"We have to figure out how to get people involved and challenge ourselves - and ask is the model relevant?" Mr Flanagan told the recent ICOS LeadFarm conference.

"The co-op model is only strong because of the strength of the previous generation. People got up on a rainy evening to go to a meeting in a hall or co-op office. We need to find the new guys and girls now."

Mr Flanagan also cited lack of time and lack of connection to the co-operative model as the main reasons for the shortage of young people and women on boards.

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