Thursday 23 November 2017

Proportion of female directors at Irish startups in decline

Christine Cullen
Christine Cullen
Samantha McCaughren

Samantha McCaughren

The proportion of female directors in startup companies has declined over the past five years, according to new research across private Irish firms.

According to analysis by credit risk analyst Vision-Net, there were more than 20,500 new companies set up in 2016, with women making up 26.6pc of the directors.

This percentage has been declining, with women accounting for 30pc of start-up directors in 2015 and 34.5pc in 2011.

Christine Cullen, managing director of, said: "Our research suggests a disappointing level of female participation at director level in Irish companies.

"This under-representation is particularly apparent in the startup community, and based on our findings, it is getting worse rather than better.

"Last year was a record year for Irish startups, with 20,535 new companies registered, 8pc more than 2015 (18,996). Despite this sizeable growth, the number of females registered at director level has fallen year-on-year as a percentage over the past five years."

The figures also showed that fewer than one in five directors of Ireland's top 150 indigenous companies are women. A review of these companies reveals that approximately 800 directors are associated with them. Of these, only 129 (16pc) are women.

There are around 295,000 active directors of companies that are trading as normal in Ireland - 104,000 of these are females which makes up 35.4pc of the total figure.

The top 150 is measured as firms with the largest turnover in euros as of August 2016. Unlimited companies were precluded if their audited accounts were not filed.

Cullen said: "These numbers are particularly disappointing when you consider the wealth of evidence that demonstrates that the bottom line is greatly improved when you have a gender balance at board level. So while we may know intuitively that gender diversity and balance matters, there is also a clear business case for it too.

"We know that Irish women are entering university and the workforce to the same degree as men, but this is clearly not translating into senior appointments or salary parity with men.

"Government and business leaders have a duty to better understand the barriers in the way of female directorship appointments and to proactively look for ways of pulling them down."

A separate report by Eurostat last week found that two out of every five Irish managers are women. However, women in management positions in Ireland earn 16pc less than men compared with the average pay gap across the EU of 23pc.

Sunday Indo Business

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