CSO Gender Balance in Business Survey

11th September 2023

Posted In: Newsflash

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) has today (11 September 2023) released Gender Balance in Business 2023.

The Gender Balance in Business Survey provides statistics on gender representation in top management teams and Boards of Directors in Ireland.



Key Findings

•In 2023, one in four members or 25% of Boards of Directors in Ireland were female, up from almost 22% in 2021.

•Female Chairpersons increased from 14% in 2021 to almost 19% in 2023.

•Female Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) increased from more than 13% in 2021 to 19% in 2023.

•Seven in ten Senior Executives in Ireland in 2023 were male.

•Almost a quarter of enterprises (24.7%) had at least 40% female representation on their Boards of Directors in 2023.

•In 2023, four in ten enterprises had set targets for the representation of females in Senior Executive roles.

This is the third iteration of the biennial survey which began in 2019. Large enterprises (250 or more employees) were asked to provide information on the members of both their Senior Executive team and Board of Directors on 01 January 2023. Almost 700 enterprises were surveyed online, of which 69% completed the survey.

Commenting on the release, Colin Hanley, Statistician in the Business Statistics Division, said: 

“Today’s results show that Irish businesses continue to increase female representation at Senior Executive and Board level.

In 2023, 25% of Boards of Directors in Ireland were female, an increase from almost 22% in 2021. Similarly, there was an increase in female Chairpersons, from 14% in 2021 to 19% in 2023. Almost one in five (19%) of Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) were female in 2023 compared with more than 13% in 2021. There was a slight increase in the overall number of female Senior Executives in 2023, rising to 30.4% in 2023 from 29.7% in 2021.

One in four (24.7%) enterprises had at least 40% female representation at Board level in Ireland in 2023 compared with 18.4% in 2021.

In 2023, 29.4% of enterprises had at least 40% female representation at Senior Executive level, compared with 28.6% in 2021.

Meanwhile, more than four in ten (41.4%) enterprises indicated that they had set targets for female representation at Senior Executive level in 2023.”

You can access the full findings here>>

Industry Comments

“While today’s Gender Balance in Business Report shows there has been some progress on female representation at board level, as well as a small increase in the number of women in CEO roles, there is still much room for improvement,” said Laura McHugh, spokesperson for Taxback. 

“For far too long, Irish women have been on the back foot when it comes to opportunities around pay and promotion in the workplace. Although we’ve come a long way from the 1970s when the marriage bar was still in place, the gender pay gap is still too wide.

“The gender pay gap will never be addressed in Ireland unless more women are given realistic opportunities to take up senior roles. This means that senior roles must be available to those who require flexible working arrangements – which is what parents need when juggling the demands of work and children. As we all know, often the primary responsibility for childcare falls on the shoulders of women and so without flexible working arrangements, many jobs simply won’t be feasible for women, whether those roles are senior or not. An employer that professes to offer equal opportunities and pay to women and men is simply not doing so if flexible working arrangements are not available,” she said.

Janita Lanigan who is a Senior Consultant in Lockton Ireland, employee benefit and pensions specialists said: “While today’s report shows there has been some progress around female representation at board level and an increase in the number of women in senior roles,

it is clear that men still hold the majority of senior corporate roles and that more work needs to done here.

“One consequence of the gender imbalance at executive level and throughout the workplace is the gender pension gap.

“The gender pension gap is a sticking point that continues to prevent parity amongst the women and men of Ireland’s workforce.

“Year on year, Irish men are saving significantly more into their pensions than Irish women are.  Interrupted careers paths when women, as they so often do, step back from work to look after children, have a major bearing on pension planning. Time taken out of the workforce to care for children is also time lost paying into a pension – as well as receiving any employer top-ups to that pension.  Of course the fact that women also often earn less then their male counterparts – regardless of whether they have children are not – also eats into their ability to make meaningful savings into a pension.

Part-time work is often taken up by women in their attempt to juggle their childcare responsibilities with work. There are significantly more women than men in part-time employment  and this also contributes to the gender pension gap.

Arguably even more importantly is what must be done to encourage and facilitate women back into full-time roles or away from part-time roles in the first instance – by providing the flexible working options, and supports, which allow them to hold onto their full-time options and also to take up senior roles. Increasingly we are working with employers to ensure the benefits they offer their employees can make a meaningful difference to their day to day lives and meet individual needs and lifestyle choices. In particular we are seeing employers looking to provide greater support in the areas of women’s health and family forming, and broadening supports to acknowledge other care-giving obligations.”