Initiative to promote gender equality in the workplace launches today

Charlie Flanagan. Photo: Leah Farrell/RollingNews

The Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan says the Government is committed to equality in the workplace.

A new Better Balance for Better Business initiative is being launched by the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar today to promote a better gender balance across Irish management.

Mr Varadkar, Mr Flanagan and Minister for Equality David Stanton announced a new business group to recommend on how more women can be involved in decision-making at the top level of businesses in Ireland.

The group will be led by Bríd Horan, an independent non-executive director of FBD Holding plc and the former deputy Chief Executive of the ESB, and by Gary Kennedy, a non-executive director and chair of Greencore Plc.

The Taoiseach said: “Participation by women on State Boards has increased over the last few years. Unfortunately, female representation on corporate boards is lagging far behind. Ireland should be doing much better.

“Only 18% of board directors are women. Over one-third of companies have no female representation at all and are not positioning themselves well to respond to change or to understand an increasingly diverse customer base. Business cannot afford to ignore the talent of half of the population.

However, according to Mr Flanagan, "the target that at least 40% of all State board positions must be filled by women has now been reached".

He says that 1,051 positions are now held by women and that 27% of all chairs of State boards are women.

Additionally, "44.3% of those appointed or re-appointed to state boards between January and July 2018 were women.

"Women were chosen for 178 positions. The government is prioritising action to promote women's leadership across a range of sectors."

Mr Flanagan says a business-led review group will promote the policy with corporate boards and senior management of leading Irish companies.

"What we're seeing now is clear and real leadership on the part of the State," he said.

"The latest percentage of women appointed to State boards is going in a very positive direction."

"If the State gives leadership, it is now incumbent on every sector and business in order to ensure their figures are acceptable and are moving in the same direction," he said.

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