Balance for Better Business co-chairs Aongus Hegarty and Julie Sinnamon standing outside beneath a tree.
Balance for Better Business co-chairs Aongus Hegarty and Julie Sinnamon. Image: Chris Bellew/Fennell Photography

Ireland exceeds EU average for the proportion of women on top boards

21 Nov 2022

While listed Irish companies have exceeded many targets when it comes to women on boards, there is still progress to be made.

The percentage of women on the boards of Ireland’s top 20 listed companies rose to 36pc in 2022, according to the fifth annual report by the Balance for Better Business review group.

This is higher than the 30pc target set for ISEQ 20 businesses by the end of 2022, as well as the 33pc target set for the end of 2023.

For other listed companies in Ireland, the percentage of women on boards is now 26pc, exceeding the 22pc target set for the end of 2022 and up 16 percentage points since 2018.

For the first time, Ireland has exceeded the average of the 27 EU countries for the proportion of women on leading company boards by 1.6 percentage points.

The gap between Ireland and the EU has narrowed each year since the Balance for Better Business group was established as part of a Government initiative in 2018.

The business-led review group aims to address the gender imbalance at senior levels in Irish business.

Almost three-quarters of ISEQ 20 listed companies now have three or more women board members, according to the group’s latest report.

The overall percentage of companies listed on the ISEQ with more than three women on their board has exceeded 50pc for the first time, now standing at 51pc.

However, there is still progress to be made. Overall, there is slow progress when it comes to women in senior leadership roles such as CEO, CFO and chairperson, the report found.

In publicly listed companies, women hold only four out of 36 CEO positions. Only one woman holds a chairperson role at an ISEQ 20 company.

Meanwhile, three listed companies have all-male boards, although this is down from five in 2021.

Balance for Better Business co-chair Julie Sinnamon said the group would continue to support businesses as they look to bridge gender balance gaps.

“By highlighting the ways in which proactive talent management and succession planning provide robust pathways for women to succeed to more senior roles, our aim is to help foster the deeper behavioural and cultural transformation required to drive real change across Irish organisations.”

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Blathnaid O’Dea
By Blathnaid O’Dea

Blathnaid O’Dea worked as a Careers reporter until 2024, coming from a background in the Humanities. She likes people, pranking, pictures of puffins – and apparently alliteration.

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