Richard Branson on diversity, equality, dignity — and the Pope (video)

2 Oct 2015

Richard Branson with Silicon Republic CEO and co-founder Ann O'Dea

In a wide-ranging interview, Richard Branson says, just like how today contraception and equal marriage are part of Ireland, so, one day, legal abortion will be.

As founder of Dublin’s Inspirefest, an international sci-tech event that has diversity at its heart, given the opportunity to sit down with Richard Branson, I couldn’t resist questioning him on the subject of diversity and equality in the workplace. The Virgin Group founder has been vocal and proactive over the years in supporting initiatives like

What resulted was a wide-ranging discussion that tackled workplace diversity, attracting top talent, women on boards, social equality, equal marriage, and even abortion rights. Branson indeed reminded us of the days when he was prosecuted in Ireland for selling condoms in his Virgin Megastores – something I’m old enough to remember but had totally forgotten!

Diversity in business should go without saying, says Branson, but because we’re not seeing enough progress, people do need to proactively work on this to make it happen.

On the subject of boards, he remarked that companies with more women on their boards invariably perform better, as has been shown in Sweden where quotas oblige large corporations to have 40pc women on their boards.

“The danger is that if you leave it to the men – who run a lot of these companies – to change their boards and get more women on, it may never happen,” said Branson. “So you may need some laws to speed it up.”

Check out the video for the full interview below.


Inspirefest is Silicon Republic’s international event connecting sci-tech professionals passionate about the future of STEM. Join us again from 30 June to 2 July 2016 for fresh perspectives on leadership, innovation and diversity.

Ann O’Dea is the CEO and co-founder of Silicon Republic and the founder of Future Human