Female executives against gender quotas for boards

Appetite, among female executives, for quotas to be introduced as a means of increasing gender equality on the boards of Irish firms is declining, according to a new survey.

“Women themselves are keen to effect change; arguing that they need to take some responsibility for the low level of women on boards through being proactive and undertaking training rather than relying on quotas as a means of increasing the number of women on boards in Ireland,” said Institute of Directors chief executive Maura Quinn.

The organisation’s report, ‘Women on Boards in Ireland: 2015’, shows up something of a mixed bag. Awareness of the importance of gender diversity is high, at 82%, and more than half of professional women feel board diversity is improving.

However, many female professionals still feel “locked out” of the boardroom, with nearly 30% claiming the ‘glass ceiling’ issue has become less widespread, but more pronounced in certain sectors such as financial services, manufacturing, property, construction, and publicly listed companies.

More than 80% of women believe they themselves need to take some responsibility for the low levels of gender balance on boards. Almost three-quarters of the survey’s respondents feel board rotation is the greatest change needed, while 40% favour targets rather than quotas as an effective means of increasing female representation in the boardroom.

“Women have become increasingly reluctant to go forward for board positions, which is very concerning; and legacy issues, coupled with interlocked directorships and a sense of disenchantment about the appointment process, appear to be playing a part in this,” Ms Quinn said.


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