ISEQ20 Companies Reach Gender Milestone

12th March 2024

Posted In: Be In The Frame

New data from the Balance for Better Business (B4BB) Review Group, reveals that the largest publicly listed companies in Ireland continue to make progress in achieving balance at board level.

Released last Friday on IWD, the figures from the Government established initiative show that

the percentage of women on the boards of ISEQ20 companies has reached 40%, up marginally from the 39% recorded in September, marking a significant milestone for Ireland’s largest public companies.

With the average level of female representation on the boards of all listed companies at 37%, Irish public companies remain on track to surpass EU requirements of 33% by 2026. Across other listed companies, the representation of women on boards is unchanged at 28%.

In another sign of progress, the number of women on individual company boards continues to grow. 4 in 5 (80%) of ISEQ20 listed companies have 3 or more women on their board, while 60% of all listed companies have at least 3 women on their boards.

Progress in balance at senior leadership level remains slow. While there was a modest increase in female representation on the leadership teams of other listed companies from 16% to  18%,

the proportion of women on the leadership teams of the ISEQ20 sits at 27%.

In addition, across all listed companies in Ireland, the proportion of all male leadership teams stands at nearly 1 in 4 (24%).

Despite the number of women in Senior Independent Director (SID) roles in the ISEQ20 now sitting at 55%, up from 53%, women remain underrepresented in other key decision-making roles across company boards and senior leadership. There are only two female chairs and two female CEOs across the boards of all listed companies.

More positively, the number of female CFOs among all listed companies has increased from 4 to 5, representing 25% of all listed companies.

Commenting on the findings, Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Simon Coveney TD, said, “The latest data from Balance for Better Business show that the representation of women on the boards of the largest publicly listed companies, the ISEQ20, has now reached 40% – a major milestone for business in Ireland, and a testament to the efforts that have been made to date.

There is still much work to do, however, especially to accelerate the pace of change for senior leadership teams.

With clear business benefits to be gained from gender balance, increasing female representation at senior leadership levels, and at every level of their organisation, should be a strategic priority for every business.

I look forward to seeing the continued progress that will be made as Irish companies, supported by Government, further embrace and drive forward this important change.”

Balance for Better Business co-chair Carol Andrews said, “With three or more women on the boards of 80% of ISEQ20 companies, it is clear that setting stretch targets and helping organisations to develop an action plan to achieve them is having a positive impact in driving gender balance.

“An increased focus on accelerating balance on senior leadership teams continues to be the next step on our path to fostering greater equity and inclusion across every level of Irish businesses. To support businesses to take the necessary steps for change, we’ll be rolling out a new strategy and roadmap in the coming months that provide targeted actions and support for every business, wherever they are on their gender balance journey.”

Balance for Better Business co-chair Aongus Hegarty added,“The case for gender balanced business leadership is compelling, with a wide range of recognised benefits from improved economic performance to a more engaged workforce and stronger culture. While this recent data shows continued progress in balance among Irish businesses, more work remains at leadership level.

“At Balance for Better Business, we urge business leaders to take the steps necessary to accelerate progress at leadership level and ensure long-term change. Setting stretch targets and regularly monitoring against these is a foundational step for every company on the path to greater equity.

Establishing a clear strategy that includes a gender balanced succession plan and pipeline for board and leadership roles can ensure that the appointment rate of women to senior positions remains strong.

Implementing these actions and addressing the cultural barriers that prevent women rising in organisations can ensure sustainable progress that enables every business to benefit from more inclusive leadership.”

Pictured: Balance for Better Business Co-Chairs Carol Andrews and Aongus Hegarty.