Balance for Better Business Picture

Launch of first report May 2019

29 May 19

Balance for Better Business report sets gender targets for company boards

  • ISEQ 20 companies should have at least 33% female directors by end of 2023
  • All other Irish listed companies should have at least 25% female directors by end of 2023
  • No company traded on Euronext Dublin should have an all-male board by end of 2019

Wednesday 29 May 2019 – Balance for Better Business has today launched its first report calling on Irish companies to rapidly address the low levels of female representation on their Boards.

The independent business-led review group, established by the Government to make recommendations on how more women can be involved in decision-making at the top level of businesses in Ireland, has outlined a series of ambitious targets and advice for Irish companies.

Balance for Better Business has set a target of at least 33% female directors for ISEQ 20 companies by the end of 2023, and 25% for all other Irish listed companies. ISEQ20 companies are the top 20 companies listed on Euronext Dublin.

In addition, the group has set interim targets for each year so that companies can measure their progress against concrete annual milestones. It has also set a target that by the end of 2019, no company traded on the Euronext Dublin markets should have an all-male board.

Balance for Better Business, which was launched by An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar T.D. in July 2018, is tasked with examining the gender mix within the governance and senior management of companies in Ireland and the issues which arise in connection with the appointment of company directors and senior management.

As it currently stands, 20.9% of ISEQ 20 directors and 12.1% of directors of other Irish listed companies are female. This amounts to an average of 16.4% women on the boards of all Irish listed companies. A total of 15 listed companies still have all-male boards.

Launching the Balance for Better Business report, Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure & Reform, Paschal Donohoe T.D., commented: [Quote to be provided: Scene setting, context, importance of subject matter, etc.]

Also commenting, Minister of State for Equality, Immigration and Integration, David Stanton, T.D., said: [Quote to be provided: Government backing, welcoming developments, outlook, tokenism/all male boards, etc.]

Brid Horan, Co-Chair, Balance for Better Business, said: “The initial focus of Balance for Better Business has been on the boardrooms of publicly quoted companies and we will be extending our analysis and recommended targets to other companies and to executive levels in future reports. I’m pleased that progress has been achieved since the launch of the initiative, with the overall percentage of women on Irish publicly listed boards increasing in the last year from 14% to 16.4% and two ISEQ 20 companies appointing women to their boards for the first time. However, the momentum needs to accelerate and to be sustained for balance to be achieved, as Ireland has slipped further behind other EU member states in recent year. Business needs to address systematic deficits in culture, people development, selection and promotion processes and to create an environment for female participation at the highest levels, on boards and in executive leadership.”

Gary Kennedy, Co-Chair, Balance for Better Business, said: “We need to recognise the significant pool of qualified and experienced female talent that already exists but too often is overlooked in making key appointments. Women are the most under-utilised economic asset in the world and countries and businesses that recognise this are the ones who will do best in the world of tomorrow. We have had a robust debate on the merits of targets versus quotas and have elected, at this stage, to recommend targets. Now is the time for business leaders to take ownership of this issue, to take the lead by making progress at board and senior management levels. The key metrics of business performance are no longer simply financial ones; the culture and balance of a company and the wellbeing of those who work in it, lead to satisfied customers, and ultimately, shareholder reward.”

Co-chaired by Brid Horan and Gary Kennedy, the Balance for Better Business Review Group is supported by the Department of Justice and senior figures in Irish business and the public service, including: Carol Andrews (30% Club and BNY Mellon), Mark FitzGerald (Sherry FitzGerald), Aongus Hegarty (Dell), Danny McCoy (Ibec), Martin Shanahan (IDA), Julie Sinnamon (Enterprise Ireland), Fiona Tierney (eir) and Dr Orlaigh Quinn (Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation). The Programme Director is Anne-Marie Taylor.