Nine out of 10 Irish companies have adopted gender balance initiatives

Research by 30% Club finds that 46% have formal diversity and inclusion policy

The setting of gender targets is still rare in Irish companies, the survey found. Photograph: iStock

The setting of gender targets is still rare in Irish companies, the survey found. Photograph: iStock

 

Nine out of 10 Irish companies and organisations have adopted initiatives aimed at improving gender balance and inclusion, but opinion is divided on whether opportunities for women have improved over the past five years, according to a survey by the 30% Club.

In 2015, just 16 per cent had a formal diversity and inclusion policy, while almost half – 46 per cent – now do so, the research suggested. While some 92 per cent have some scheme in place, “the extent differs between organisations”, the 30% Club said.

The setting of gender targets is still rare, with less than a fifth of respondents saying they had them.

But the research also pointed to “better management” around absences for family reasons, while policies that have become more common included paid maternity leave, paid paternity leave and agile working practices.

The research, led by the 30% Club’s Anne Marie Taylor, represents the views of 350 organisations.

Within this group, some 48 per cent said they believed opportunities for women in their organisations had improved over the past five years, but 46 per cent said they believed they had stayed the same.

The group will present its research on Thursday at a Women in Management conference in Dublin Castle expected to be attended by more than 200 senior business executives.

Speakers at the event will include Helena Morrissey, who founded the 30% Club in the UK in 2010, and Vodafone chief executive Anne O’Leary.

Women continue to make inroads into the management hierarchy, with percentages of women at all levels increasing since 2015, the 30% Club said, although they remain significantly outnumbered at executive director and chief executive levels.

“While these changes are welcome, it is clear that while women are doing better at lower management levels, progress at the higher levels remains hard to change,” said Rachel Hussey, who chairs 30% Club Ireland.