Dearbhail McDonald: Concern at drop in number of women in senior posts
Less than 12pc of PLC board appointments in the last year were women, according to analysis carried out by the 30% Club.
The 30% Club's third annual Women in Management research report revealed that the participation rates of women at all levels in management have increased, but there has been a drop in representation at higher levels.
Whilst almost half (48pc)of junior management roles are held by women, less than one-third of executive directors are women and less than one in five occupy CEO roles.
The report, launched yesterday by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, has exposed sharp differences between sectors, with the highest percentage of female CEOs in the food (50pc) and retail (40pc) sectors of some 86 companies that responded to the 30% Club's survey.
It found no female CEOs in construction and low levels of female CEOs in key sectors such as technology, manufacturing and financial services.
The report, in partnership with industry lobby group Ibec and Dublin City University, also found, for the third year in a row, that women enjoy greater career success in companies with a female CEO.
"Consistent with international research, the findings continue to show that women in Ireland progress to higher levels of management under a female CEO rather than a male CEO," said Carol Andrews, MD of BNY Mellon and chairwoman of the 30% Club Ireland.
"They also continue to be strongly concentrated in the upper levels of management in HR, but are particularly poorly represented in IT and sales.
Speaking at the conference, Mr Varadkar said gender diversity in the boardroom is good for business, leads to better decisions, reduces the risk of group-think, and improves overall financial performance.
"Companies which are stuck in the past are not equipping themselves for the future," said Mr Varadkar. "Gender equality isn't just good for women; it benefits everyone. We get better results when there is a diversity of views around the table, and as our own history shows, we are weaker when we exclude women's voices."
The dearth of women in senior management positions in tech and financial services has been identified as a risk in the Irish corporate landscape.
"While it is good to see some progress, the scarcity and in some cases the complete absence of women in key sectors is of serious concern and places Ireland at a competitive disadvantage internationally," said Mark Redmond, CEO of the American Chamber of Commerce. "To address this imbalance, we need to up our game on removing barriers to girls in pursuing STEM subjects and careers".
Senior management from leading firms attended the conference, including BNY Mellon, McKinsey, PwC, INM, Glanbia and Google.