Irish firms not planning for board diversity, study finds

Institute of Directors warns on gender issues, succession and recruitment for boards

New research suggests there is a “worrying” lack of planning for the renewal of boards of directors in Irish organisations.

Diversity in the Boardroom 2019, a study by the Institute of Directors in Ireland (IoD) of its members, has found that barely one in 10 board directors surveyed were appointed following an independent recruitment process.

Half of all respondents said they were instead directly approached for the role by the board or one of its members, with men much more likely to have been approached by a board acquaintance than women.

About 47 per cent of the 380 respondents said their board has no rotation system for tenure, and 53 per cent said they ha d been in situ for five years or more.


"There is an overwhelming recognition that board diversity in all its forms leads to enhanced board effectiveness and company performance," said Maura Quinn, chief executive of the IoD in Ireland.

Rotation system

“Yet, on closer examination, [there is] a worrying finding when it comes to the appointment of board members, with almost half of respondents saying their board does not have a rotation system in place for board tenure.

“Resignation and retirement are still the main reasons for boardroom changes. This lack of planned processes around succession planning militates against effective board diversity for good governance.”

The survey suggests support among respondents is rising for gender targets, rather than gender quotas, as a way to tackle the issue of gender diversity. Almost four in 10 respondents favoured targets over quotas.

“ Collectively, 43 per cent of men and women see unconscious bias as still the main barrier that women face when being appointed to boards as directors in Ireland, but 54 per cent of women alone cite lack of access to the same networks as men as the main barrier,” said IoD.

Mark Paul

Mark Paul

Mark Paul is London Correspondent for The Irish Times