Saturday 20 January 2018

It's still boardroom jobs for the boys, women tell survey

Vodafone chief executive officer Anne O'Leary at the IMAGE Networking Breakfast. Photo: Anthony Woods
Vodafone chief executive officer Anne O'Leary at the IMAGE Networking Breakfast. Photo: Anthony Woods
Colm Kelpie

Colm Kelpie

Three-quarters of women questioned for a survey believe it is tougher for females to become non-executive board members than it is for males.

And one in three women surveyed believe the so-called glass ceiling still exists in Ireland.

The study, undertaken by the Institute of Directors (IOD), also claimed that women have become increasingly reluctant to put themselves forward for board positions.

And it argued that they continue to encounter barriers in accessing the boardroom due to "male dominated" boards and a lack of contacts.

Maura Quinn, IOD chief executive, said that while there have been improvements, women continue to feel locked out of the boardroom.

"The wide-ranging debate and increased focus on the topic in recent years is likely to have influenced an improved level of awareness of the importance of gender diversity on boards," Ms Quinn said.

"However, women continue to feel locked out of the boardroom due to a lack of access to the same networks and information as men and the 'who you know' culture of board appointments continues to prevail."

The survey was carried out between April 27 and May 11 with a sample of 196 women. The respondents represent all of the board director categories - chairpersons, non-executive directors, executive directors and chief executives/managing directors.

Ms Quinn said she believed it was a representative sample.

"We would know that quite a number of those women would sit on quite a number of boards, but were only talking about one board. So it gives a far-reaching picture of what is happening on boards in general across a number of sectors.

"I think the perspective that these women are giving is much broader than the sample size of 196." Other findings include:

* 82pc say awareness of importance of gender diversity has improved in Ireland

* Over half of women claim gender diversity on boards is improving generally

* 27pc of women say a 'glass ceiling' exists in certain sectors, up 9pc since 2013

Over three-quarters - 76pc - of the women surveyed said that it is more difficult for women to become non-executive directors in Ireland than men.

The findings came as women from all levels of the corporate world met at yesterday's IMAGE networking breakfast to discuss "A Woman's World? The challenges and rewards facing women in business" at Dublin's Marker Hotel.

Irish Independent

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