Earlier this year we noted that Irish enterprises with 250 or more employees and which are engaged in certain activities, would be required to provide information to the Central Statistics Office (the CSO) on a once-off basis for the purposes of the Gender Balance in Business Survey for 2023.

The CSO has now made public the information provided by relevant businesses responding to the Survey.

Key findings for 2023 include that

  • the proportion of female Directors in surveyed Irish businesses increased from almost 22% in 2021 to 25%
  • female Chairpersons increased from 14% in 2021 to almost 19%
  • female Chief Executive Officers increased from more than 13% in 2021 to 19%
  • 24.7% of surveyed Irish businesses had at least 40% female representation on their boards
  • 40% of surveyed Irish businesses had set targets for the representation of females in Senior Executive roles

Commenting on the survey, Colin Hanley, Statistician in the Business Statistics Division, said: “Today’s results show that Irish businesses continue to increase female representation at Senior Executive and Board level.

This focus on collecting data around gender representation aligns with recent European and local legislative initiatives, including the EU’s Directive on Pay Transparency, Ireland’s Gender Pay Gay reporting legislation, and the EU’s Gender Balance on Board’s Directive on which we have written previously, here, here and here.

This is the third iteration of the Gender Balance in Business Survey, the first two having been undertaken in 2019 and 2021. While this year’s survey does demonstrate that surveyed Irish businesses are increasing their gender parity at senior levels – and while all progress towards this goal is to be welcomed – the speed at which changes are taking place may feel disappointingly slow. The fact remains that almost seven in ten Senior Executives in surveyed Irish businesses is male, a proportion that has barely changed in the five years during which data has been provided. Further, while there has been a significant increase in the proportion of female Directors generally, some roles have not followed the trend: female CFOs now represent just over 25% of the total down from nearly 30% in 2019.

There is positive data: the changes in proportion of female Chairpersons (from 7.4% in 2019 to 18.7% in 2023) and CEOs (from 11.5% in 2019 to 19.0% in 2023) is particularly encouraging, noting that in each of these cases we were starting from a low baseline.

It remains the case that more will be expected of businesses. The focus on gender parity in the EU, especially for larger publicly listed companies or those reporting ESG information, will require companies that are still struggling to improve gender parity at senior leadership levels to increase their focus on this matter.