Tuesday 20 February 2018

Glass ceiling still holding back women

Colm Kelpie

Colm Kelpie

NEW figures show that women remain severely under-represented in corporate life and the situation may be getting worse.

As IMF boss Christine Lagarde comes to Dublin, accountancy firm Grant Thornton reports that just over a fifth of senior business roles in Ireland are filled by women – even worse than the position four years ago.

On International Women's Day, further research from recruitment company Accreate has found that just 8pc of plc board members in Ireland are women.

Grant Thornton said that the number of women in senior management was unchanged last year, down slightly on the position in 2009.

It said the global average level of representation was 24pc, with Ireland 36th out of 44 countries surveyed.

Sinead Donovan, Grant Thornton partner, said the lack of progress was disappointing.

"Even more frustrating is to see we have deteriorated from the position in 2009. One explanation is that the weakness of the Irish economy has given little room for career progression, which has allowed the status quo to endure," she said.

Key findings in the Grant Thornton report include:

• 7pc of Irish companies plan to promote more women into senior management over the next 12 months.

• 17pc of board directorships in Ireland are held by women, despite a target set by the European Commission for women to make up 40pc of non-executive directorships by 2020.

• Ireland is the lowest-ranked EU country, apart from Greece, on flexible working, with 53pc of companies offering family friendly working solutions compared to an EU average of 74pc.

Ronan Colleran, Accreate managing director, said female representation remained low.

"Studies have shown the positive effect gender-balanced boards can have on business management and performance and Irish companies need to realise that," he said.

However, research by company website Vision-net claims that the number of female directors of Irish companies has shot up 14pc since the recession began. It said that the number of women directors in Irish companies stands at 104,971, compared to 92,281 five years ago and 48,571 a decade ago.

The number of Irish company directors is 494,646 and, of these, one in five is a woman.

Irish Independent

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