All-male boards must address gender imbalance at the top table – Higgins

The 13% of listed Irish companies who have all-male boards must act now to address the gender imbalance at their top tables, a Fine Gael TD has said.


Dublin Mid-West TD Deputy Emer Higgins raised the matter in the Dáil with An Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar, who echoed Deputy Higgins’ calls for listed companies to consider how their boardrooms can best reflect society.


Deputy Higgins said, “The latest report from Balance for Better Business found that while the representation of women in the boardroom is improving slowly, there are still five (13.2%) listed companies in Ireland with all-male boards, which is very disappointing.


“Last Autumn, I introduced a Private Members Bill in the Dáil which would require all companies to have 33% of each gender on their board within a year of commencing the legislation, and 40% within three years.


“While I do believe that enacting quotas is the quickest way to make progress on this issue, I would echo the Tánaiste’s remarks that companies should not wait for legislation to be enacted to start looking at the gender balance at their top tables. I am calling on the companies with all-male boards in particular to take urgent action to address the lack of women in their boardrooms.


“There is such a strong business case for having better gender balance in the boardroom because diversity of thought around a leadership table produces better decisions – it’s best for governance, for risk and for decision-making.


“The McKinsey & Company Diversity Wins Report 2020 found that companies whose boards are in the top quartile of gender diversity are 28% more likely than their peers to outperform financially.

“The research speaks for itself and the companies who are still operating with all-male boards are putting themselves at a disadvantage in this respect.


“I am really pleased that I will have the support of the Tánaiste when my Bill comes before the Dáil but in the interim I would encourage all companies to start seriously looking at the gender representation in their boardrooms now if they’re not already.


“Balance in the boardroom is best for business and in 2022 all-male boards should be a thing of the past,” concluded Deputy Higgins

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