Wednesday 19 June 2019

More women in the boardroom - but rise is small

'The European Commission has given its backing to proposals that would force companies within the EU to have at least 40pc female representation on their boards by 2020.' Photo: Stock Image
'The European Commission has given its backing to proposals that would force companies within the EU to have at least 40pc female representation on their boards by 2020.' Photo: Stock Image

Michael Cogley

Female representation in Irish boardrooms increased marginally last year, new research has found.

Of the 408 members on ISEQ boards in 2018, 69 of them were female, according to a study by executive recruitment firm Accreate.

Over the course of the year, 39 new board members were appointed to Irish listed companies, 12 of which were women. Around 7pc of all ISEQ companies have no female representation at all at board level. During 2018, female representation on non-executive boards increased by two percentage points to 17pc.

The European Commission has given its backing to proposals that would force companies within the EU to have at least 40pc female representation on their boards by 2020.

Accreate partner Caroline Baldwin said Ireland is still lacking diversity on boards when compared to other countries.

"At European level the number of female board members has increased from 9pc in 2004 to 32pc at the beginning of 2018," she said.

"While we have noted an increasing focus on gender diversity and representation at board level in Ireland, as we move toward 2020, ISEQ-listed companies face a significant challenge in meeting the 40pc threshold as stated by the EU."

Baldwin said representation jumped by seven percentage points to 43pc in France and by two percentage points to 35pc in Italy in the years between 2004 and 2018. She said the two examples "emphasised the overall slow rate of change in Ireland".

"Overall, the key to an effective and successful board is one that blends a variety of factors such as background, experience, ethnicity, gender and age," she said. "By embracing such diversity, there is an opportunity for boards to effectively meet their strategic aims while also future-proofing their companies."

Anne Heraty of CPL, Siobhan Talbot of Glanbia, and Fiona Muldoon of FBD are among the female CEOs of Irish listed companies.

The representation figures for Irish companies differ significantly to State boards, which has exceeded 40pc for the first time, according to the latest figures from the Department of Justice.

A survey carried out last July showed the female share of State board membership is now up at 40.7pc, up 2.3 percentage points from February 2017. Women accounted for 52pc of all appointments made to State boards last year.

Sunday Independent

Also in Business