Study shows just 21% of senior business roles filled by women

Just 21% of senior business roles in Ireland are filled by women — even less than was the case four years ago.

According to a new study compiled by accountancy firm Grant Thornton to mark International Women’s Day today, the figures for women in senior management have not changed in the past year but have fallen slightly when compared to 2009.

The global average level of representation was 24% which places Ireland 36th out of 44 countries surveyed — just ahead of Britain and the USA.

Some 37% of the companies surveyed said they would support the introduction of quotas on the number of women on the boards of large publicly-listed companies. The global average was also 37%, with countries more in favour of a quota solution largely coming from emerging markets.

The study found that just 7% of Irish companies plan to promote more women into senior management over the next year.

Only 17% of board directorships in Ireland are held by women, despite a target set by the European Commission for women to make up 40% of non-executive directorships by 2020.

The research found that, on flexible working, Ireland is the lowest ranked EU country apart from Greece, with 53% of companies offering family-friendly working solutions compared to an EU average of 74%.

Partner at Grant Thornton, Sinead Donovan, said Ireland’s lack of progress in appointing women to senior management roles was “disappointing”.

“There is widespread opposition to quotas which I think is understandable given successful professional women in Ireland want a promotion because they are the best for the job, rather than a leg-up via legislation.

“However given the limited progress being made it is time for a greater debate around quotas and the role they can play in Ireland,” she said.

A separate study carried out by business and credit risk analysts Vision-net found that almost 105,000 women are directors of Irish companies — up 14% since the start of the recession

The study highlights the number of women directors in Irish companies is 104,971, compared to 92,281 five years ago and 48,571 a decade ago. The number of company directors is 494,646 and, of these, one in five is a woman.

The research found that just under one-third of women directors are in their 40s and a quarter are in their 50s. Just 4% are in their 20s.


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