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Irish firms lag behind UK in women-director leagues

THE number of women directors on the UK's top 100 listed companies has risen to 17pc, or almost twice the rate here.

Both Ireland's 9pc rate and the UK's much higher rate fall short of EU recommendations that boards should be 40pc made up of women directors by 2020, based on merit rather than Norway-style quotas.

Ireland, along with Bulgaria and Poland, was only one of three EU countries which recorded a fall in the share of women on the boards of its publically listed countries at the start of this year.

The European average was 15.8pc in January, up from 13.7pc a year before. However the study of 19 top Irish public companies revealed that not even one in 10 directors of our top companies are women.

The new UK statistics comes from the Cranfield University School of Management, which says there are now 169 women holding 194 board seats at companies in the FTSE 100 Index but seven companies still have no women on their board.

Fashion retailers Burberry had the highest female representation – still only three women directors out of eight.

A March study by Ireland's Institute of Directors found that just over half of the 155 Irish women directors surveyed thought females didn't get equal access to information about available boards positions.

Three-quarters said more transparency in the appointment process was needed to ensure equality and only 60pc thought gender diversity on their board had improved in the last five years. Surprisingly, almost all still said they felt equal in the boardroom.

The majority of the women were pessimistic about Ireland's ability to achieve the EU's target by 2020.

Institute of Directors chief executive Maura Quinn said: "There are clearly still issues with regard to transparency and a 'who-you-know' approach to board appointments."

Irish Independent