Report reveals women continue to feel locked out of the boardroom

By Business & Finance
22 May 2015
Boardroom stock

An Institute of Directors’ report has found that despite some improvements in gender diversity on boards, women have become increasingly reluctant to put themselves forward for board positions.

The report details the findings of research carried out exclusively among women members of the Institute of Directors in Ireland (IoD) earlier this month, following a similar survey conducted in 2013.

82% of women surveyed believe that awareness of the importance of gender diversity on boards in Ireland has increased in recent years, while a majority (58%) are of the view that gender diversity on boards is improving generally.

There has been a slight decrease from 35% in 2013, to 31% in 2015, in those who argue that a ‘glass ceiling’ exists in Ireland and the focus appears to be shifting more towards certain sectors, with a 9% increase since 2013 in those women who believe that a ‘glass ceiling’ is locking women out of boards in particular sectors such as financial services, construction, manufacturing, property and publicly listed companies.

Of the women surveyed, 50% claim that gender diversity is a medium or high priority for their board, a welcome increase of 13% since 2013, while 91% feel equal in the boardroom. Asked about the current representation of women at board level, the majority (59%) say that women account for between 11% – 40% of directors on their board.

The barriers encountered by women have no doubt contributed to three-quarters (76%) of the women surveyed saying that it is more difficult for women to become non-executive directors in Ireland than men.

Women are, therefore, increasingly reluctant to put themselves forward for board positions, with 62% claiming than women are more reluctant than men to put themselves forward, compared to just 43% in 2013.

  • 82% argue that women themselves need to take some responsibility for the low level of women on boards in Ireland
  • 74% say rotation of board members needed to enable more women to be appointed to boards in Ireland
  • Decreasing appetite for gender quotas to increase number of women on boards
  • 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 certain sectors, up 9% since 2013
  • 13% increase in level of priority placed on gender diversity in the boardroom