Ireland’s top 20 Iseq companies have highest ratio of female CEOs globally

Report highlights under-representation of women at top of corporate ladder

Ireland’s top 20 Iseq companies have the highest ratio of female chief executives among stock indices globally at 15 per cent, according to a new report that highlights the significant under-representation of women at the top of the corporate ladder.

The ratio is triple the 5 per cent global average, and is followed by Denmark, at 13 per cent, and Norway, at 12 per cent, Chicago-headquartered executive search group Heidrick & Struggles said in the report.

“It is also crucial for boards to look at building diversity in the wider C-suite cadre, to prime these individuals for candidature at the top rung,” said Stafford Bagot, head of Heidrick & Struggles Ireland. C-suite refers to top executive roles, such as chief executive, chief financial officer of chief operating officer.

“While Ireland’s progress on appointing female CEOs is strong in comparison with the global figures, it’s clear there is some way to go for representation of women at the top,” he said.


The three female CEOs on the Iseq 20 are Bank of Ireland's Francesca McDonagh, Glanbia head Siobhan Talbot and Irish Residential Properties Reit chief Margaret Sweeney.

However, the overall representation of women in charge of Irish-listed companies is set to drop as recruitment firm CPL Resources led by Anne Heraty, who in 1999 became the first female CEO on the Iseq Overall Index, is set to be taken over by Japanese firm Outsourcing Inc for €318 million early next year.

The survey found that the Irish market had the lowest average CEO age at appointment, at just over 45½, compared to the global average of 50. However, it also had the lowest level of executives taking on a top job with an advanced

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degree, at 25 per cent – less than half the global average.

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan is Markets Correspondent of The Irish Times