In May, the Institute of Directors in Ireland (IOD) published a report entitled "Women on Boards in Ireland 2015" which concluded that whilst awareness of gender diversity is improving, women in Ireland continue to feel "locked out" of the boardroom.

The report found that women have become increasingly reluctant to put themselves forward for board positions and continue to encounter barriers in accessing the boardroom due to ‘male dominated’ boards and a lack of contacts.

The report found the following:

  • 82% say awareness of importance of gender diversity has improved in Ireland; 
  • Over 1 in 2 women claim gender diversity on boards is improving generally;
  • 27% of women say a ‘glass ceiling’ exists in particular sectors such as financial services, construction, manufacturing, property and publicly listed companies, up 9% since 2013;
  • 13% increase in level of priority placed on gender diversity in the boardroom;
  • 82% of women surveyed believe that awareness of the importance of gender diversity on boards in Ireland has increased in recent years; 
  • 58% are of the view that gender diversity on boards is improving generally;
  • 59% say that women account for between 11% - 40% of directors on their board;
  • 57% believe women do not have the same access to information as men when it comes to available board positions and cite interlocking directorships, access to networks and contacts and ‘male dominated’ boards as key barriers in accessing the boardroom;
  • 76% of the women surveyed say that it is more difficult for women to become non-executive directors in Ireland than men.

Change

82% believe that women themselves need to take some responsibility for the low level of women on boards in Ireland, arguing that women need to be more proactive in their approach to securing directorships.  

74% say rotation of board members is needed to enable more women to be appointed to boards in Ireland.

67% of the women surveyed claimed to have undertaken formal director training to prepare for their board positions.

Quotas

Notably, a decreasing appetite for formal quotas was reported among the women surveyed, with a 6% drop to 23% in those who believe that quotas are most effective in increasing the number of women on boards and an increase of 3% to 28% in those who argue that quotas are the wrong approach entirely. The largest proportion, 40% of women surveyed, generally favour targets as a means of increasing the number of women on boards in Ireland.