News & Media

Women on boards: legally binding quotas needed

11 December 2019

Statement by Senator Ivana Bacik
Seanad Group Leader and Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and International Human Rights

Responding to today’s ‘Balance for Better Business’ report showing there is still a serious imbalance for women at leadership levels in Irish companies, Labour Senator Ivana Bacik said:

“This report shows that women make up just 19.1% of publicly listed boards in Ireland, and while that is slightly up on six months ago, is still far too low.

“There are also 13 companies in Ireland which currently have no women at all on their boards.

“There is a wealth of talent available that we are missing out on, with many highly qualified and capable women in Ireland who could and should be occupying senior positions in Irish boardrooms.

“The reality is, if we want to see increased participation by women at board level, a legally binding quota for non-executive directors should be introduced.

“This is already in place in countries like Norway, which has a legal minimum quota requirement of around 40% for bothmen and women on every company board. In 2015, Germany also passed a law that requires companies to give 30% of non-executive board positions to women.

“Informal industry group initiatives, while welcome, will only go so far toward increasing women’s representation.

“The measures brought in by Labour to ensure a minimum of 40% of women as State board appointees have been successful, with 40.9% women now in place, but more action is needed.

“And while Ireland has certainly come a long way toward reducing gender inequality in the workplace, more needs to be done.

“In particular, more needs to be done on the provision of high quality affordable childcare; and on tackling the gender pay gap. We know that women are still being paid less than men overall. The Government needs to speed up their slow progress on this issue, by ensuring that the Gender Pay Gap legislation is brought into force before the inevitable General Election takes place in 2020”.