Advancing Balanced Business Leadership in Ireland

1st May 2024

Posted In: The Topic

Balance for Better Business, an independent review group established by Government, has today launched its new strategy, targets and roadmap to improve gender balance at board and leadership level among businesses in Ireland.

Inspiring progress

The initiative has set a new target for organisations to exceed 40% female representation on boards and leadership teams in 2024. The purpose of the 40%+ target is to encourage businesses to achieve a minimum 40% figure when setting gender balance goals and inspire more ambitious progress.

The 40%+ target is a significant figure, aligned with international norms on gender balance, which provides a key threshold for companies to realise better business outcomes including improved financial performance, increased innovation, and addressing customer needs.

Strategic vision

The launch of the B4BB strategy for 2024-2028 follows a commitment by the Government in 2023 to renew the initiative for another five years.

Over the next five years the strategy will focus on driving progress in gender balance across five key pillars: targets, impact, advocacy, policy and strong trusted voice. The initiative will continue to set ambitious targets for businesses with an annual review to measure progress. Demonstrating the positive business impact of a gender balanced workforce will also remain a core focus.

On the policy front, B4BB will take a collaborative role in working with different stakeholders to help inform and shape national policy impacting gender balance and further embed gender balance in the corporate agenda. The initiative will continue to use its position as a strong trusted voice in the business community to inform, promote and highlight progress towards greater gender balance through research-based evidence.

Roadmap to success

To support businesses to achieve gender balance targets, B4BB has published a new ambitious roadmap that provides guidance around key focus areas which will help accelerate progress at both board and leadership level.

Based on research conducted at the international level, the new roadmap provides clear structured steps across five key areas to equip organisations with the tools to be successful on their gender balance journey.

The five key areas of the roadmap are:

•Make a plan and measure: Create a plan with targets by function and regularly measure against these targets.

•Succession planning: Ensure succession planning is supported by a gender balanced pipeline.

•Talent development and retention: Provide the supports to help talent develop the skills to advance.

•Recruitment strategies: Mandate gender-balanced candidate lists for open roles and promotion.

•Strategic leadership: Develop non-traditional career pathways for strategic leadership positions.

Commenting on the launch, Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Peter Burke TD, said, “Over the past five years, Irish businesses have made extraordinary progress in gender balance, with female representation on the boards of ISEQ20 listed companies rising by 22 percentage points to reach the milestone of 40% earlier this year. However, there is still much work to do, in particular to accelerate the pace of change in non-listed companies and within particular industries.

“Today’s launch of the Balance for Better Business five-year strategy marks an important step forward, setting out an ambitious new programme for the next five years, and reaffirming Government’s commitment to building an equitable, diverse and inclusive economy, in collaboration with business and social partners.

Setting an ambitious 40%+ target across both boards and leaderships teams will inspire renewed action on gender balance by businesses across Ireland and help every organisation to realise the benefits of more balanced leadership.”

Balance for Better Business co-chair Carol Andrews commented, “Since its foundation in 2018, the Balance for Better Business initiative has established itself as a strong, trusted voice on gender balance in the Irish business community. We recognise the considerable work undertaken by businesses in Ireland over this period in making balance a strategic priority and advancing their gender balance journey.

“As we look to the future, our new strategy will enable us to continue this positive momentum and accelerate the pace of change in key focus areas.

Targets will continue to form a critical part of our work, with the 40%+ target announced today encouraging businesses to be ambitious in striving for change. With the release of our new roadmap supporting firms take the necessary steps for change, we hope to continue driving sustainable progress towards these goals and achieve a more inclusive system of business leadership that truly reflects Irish society.”

Balance for Better Business co-chair Aongus Hegarty added, 

“It is important that firms continue setting stretch targets to encourage ambitious progress. That’s why we’re calling for organisations to exceed the target of 40% female representation on boards and leadership teams this year.

“To support businesses to accelerate their progress towards these goals, we’re releasing a new ambitious roadmap that provides clear guidance on how organisations can advance their gender balance journey in a structured way.

“These key focus areas include making a plan and regularly measuring against targets, developing gender balanced succession plans, and providing the right talent development and retention supports for talent to advance within an organisation. By implementing these actions, we hope to equip more firms with the right tools to be successful on their gender balance journey.”

To learn more about the strategy, targets and roadmap, visit:

Pictured at the launch is Aongus Hegarty and Carol Andrews, Co-Chairs of Balance for Better Business Review Group with Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Peter Burke.