30% Club calls on firms to create a better gender balance

Just one in ten directors of Irish publically listed companies are women

Pictured at the launch is Minister Richard Bruton; (l ) Marie O’Connor, partner at PwC and 30% Club Leader in Ireland and (middle) Helena Morrissey CBE, ceo of Newton Investment Management and founder of 30% Club in the UK. (Photograph: Maxwells)

Pictured at the launch is Minister Richard Bruton; (l ) Marie O’Connor, partner at PwC and 30% Club Leader in Ireland and (middle) Helena Morrissey CBE, ceo of Newton Investment Management and founder of 30% Club in the UK. (Photograph: Maxwells)

 

Business leaders committed to bringing the proportion of female directors on Irish boards and at executive management level up to 30 per cent by 2020 at an event in Dublin on Wednesday evening.

At the launch of the 30% Club, a global movement aimed at achieving better gender balance in business, the group affirmed its commitment to creating a better gender balance at the helm of Irish organisations.

Speaking at the event, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton, said that he was “delighted” that the Club has come to Ireland.

“Senior business leaders have an important role in taking ownership of this important issue and driving the change within their organisations in order to reap the many benefits that gender balance brings,” he said.

The Irish chapter of the 30% Club, which was launched in the UK in 2010, is led by Marie O’Connor, partner at PwC, with the support of founding chairmen Nicky Hartery, CRH; Vivienne Jupp, CIE; Michael Buckley, formerly DCC; Lochlann Quinn, ESB, Kieran McGowan, Business in the Community and Gary Kennedy, Greencore.

In the UK the Club, which was founded by Newton Investment Management managing director Helena Morrissey, has seen the number of women on FTSE-100 boards increase from 12.5 per cent to more than 22 per cent, and it hopes to reach 30 per cent by the end of 2015.

In Ireland however, the goal remains some way off. As a survey earlier this month from Catalyst showed, just one in ten directors of Irish publically listed companies are women.

However, the Club is already making progress, and since its introduction in Ireland last May, chief executives and chairs from over 85 top Irish companies have become official supporters.

According to Ms O’Connor, the Club hopes to achieve its goals without imposing quotas, which have been used successfully in other countries, such as Norway.

“We are focused on influencing voluntary change from senior leaders as opposed to supporting mandatory quotas, which may not lead to sustainable change,” she said, pointing out that when organisations have at least 30 per cent senior female representatives, it leads to “enhanced performance, innovation and talent retention”.

The arrival of the Club in Ireland was also welcomed by business group Ibec, with its CEO, Danny McCoy, noting that “much more can be done to support gender balance”.

“Gender balance is not a women’s issue, but a strategic business issue. It is good for women and men, and positively effects the bottom line,” he said.

The Club also launched a 30% Club scholarship worth €10,000 in partnership with the Irish Management Institute at its inaugural event.