Cantillon: Just one in 10 board members are women

Origin ranks well in terms of gender balance, with 44 per cent of its board being women

According to the Irish chapter of the 30% Club, which promotes “growth through diversity”, just 10.3 per cent of the board members of companies listed on the Iseq Overall index are women. Photograph: Getty Images/iStockphoto

According to the Irish chapter of the 30% Club, which promotes “growth through diversity”, just 10.3 per cent of the board members of companies listed on the Iseq Overall index are women. Photograph: Getty Images/iStockphoto

 

Gender quotas have become something of a hot topic in the run-up to next year’s general election because for the first time, political parties have to select 30 per cent of female candidates or face a financial penalty.

This is designed to help correct a gender imbalance as women currently make up just 16 per cent of the Dáil.

It’s a lowly figure when you consider that women make up half of the population but it’s quite good when compared with companies listed on the Irish Stock Exchange.

According to the Irish chapter of the 30% Club, which promotes “growth through diversity”, just 10.3 per cent of the board members of companies listed on the Iseq Overall index are women.

Rose Hynes recently took over as chairman of agri-services group Origin, which is listed on the junior ESM market in Dublin. She is the only female chair of 40 companies listed on either the main market or the ESM.

Origin ranks well in terms of gender balance, with 44 per cent of its board being women.

Female chiefs are also thin on the ground. Just four Irish companies listed in Dublin have women designated as either the chief executive officer or managing director: Anne Heraty at recruiter CPL (she was a co-founder of the business and is one of its major shareholders); Siobhán Talbot at food group Glanbia; Fiona Muldoon at insurer FBD; and multi-tasker Maureen Jones at both Conroy Gold and Natural Resources, and Karelian Diamond Resources.

Ironically, the head of the Irish Stock Exchange is a woman, Deirdre Somers although the other eight board members are men.

The 30% Club launched in the UK in 2010 with a goal of achieving a minimum of 30 per cent of women on FTSE-100 boards by the end of 2015. The figure currently stands at 26.1 per cent.

The Irish chapter was set up in January 2015 and has more than 100 “supporters” with Bríd Horan, a former deputy chief executive of the ESB, leading the charge, so to speak. As the theme song for the British Labour Party’s breakthrough general election campaign in 1997 said, things can only get better. You’d hope.

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