Thursday 23 January 2020

'Stop giving board jobs to the same few women'

Call for change: Regina Breheny
Call for change: Regina Breheny

Shawn Pogatchnik

IRISH companies should stop the "sloppy practice" of giving multiple board seats to a small circle of women, according to an investment chief.

Regina Breheny, chief executive of the Irish Association of Investment Managers, whose members manage €1trn in assets, spoke out after an independent panel documented under-representation of women in boardrooms of Ireland's publicly listed firms.

The Balance for Better Business panel found that women fill a quarter of board of director positions at Ireland's top 20 Dublin-listed firms - but that the same women appear on many of those boards.

Ms Breheny noted the report's finding that 17.7pc of women on boards at Dublin-listed firms hold two or more directorships, versus 4.1pc of their male colleagues.

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"That seems to be because boards are relying on what they consider to be a limited pool of female candidates, This practice is not appropriate.

"There are many hundreds of perfectly well-qualified women available to add their considerable knowledge to our public companies. It's time these sloppy practices were called out," she said.

This month's Balance for Better Business report set many targets for putting more women into boardroom roles. It wants women to hold 33pc of directorships by 2023 at the top 20 firms.

Ms Breheny called for 50-50 balance by then.

"If that aggressive 50pc target isn't set," she said, "then at the current rate of progress it could be another decade or two before we see the necessary gender balance on the boards of our most important public companies."

She said her association's members "are adding their weight and voting power to the call for change".

Irish Independent

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