Irish among worst for gender balance on boards

Just 10% of Iseq board directors are women survey finds

Siobhan Talbot, group managing director Glanbia, at a conference in Dublin Castle on Tuesday. Ms Talbot is one of the few female board directors of an Irish listed company.  (Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times)

Siobhan Talbot, group managing director Glanbia, at a conference in Dublin Castle on Tuesday. Ms Talbot is one of the few female board directors of an Irish listed company. (Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times)

 

Is it time for gender quotas for Irish boards? A new survey, which finds that just one in ten directors of Irish publically listed companies are women, would suggest so. The result positions Ireland as one of the worst performers in terms of gender balance on corporate boards, second only to Portgual in Europe.

According to a new report from Catalyst, a global non-profit working to advance women into leadership, Ireland was second only to Portugal (7.9%)in Europe interms of gender diversity, far behind our close neighbour the UK (22.8%).

Top of the pile is Norway, where women represent more than a third of boards (35.5%), giving credence to the argument that quotas do promote gender diversity.

And Norway, which mandates female board participation of 40 per cent, is not the only country to take action. Different approaches include the voluntary targets favoured by the UK, the forthcoming new quota legislation for women on corporate boards in Germany (starting in 2016), and the existing legislation in nine European countries, including France (40%) and Spain (40%).

Ireland has also fallen behind the US (19.2%), Canada (20.8%) and Australia (19.2%), the survey shows.

Deborah Gillis, president & CEO of Catalyst says that the the current numbers shown in the survey “are simply not good enough”.

“Companies that are not making diversity on boards a priority should be embarrassed. Smart leaders know that they can either lead the movement toward making profound and lasting impact, or be left behind. The way of the past is not the way of the future,” she says.