Almost half of state boards falling short of gender diversity target

Almost half of state boards falling short of gender diversity target

Michael McGrath

Nearly half of state boards are falling short of a government target to have women making up at least 40 per cent of their membership.

Public Expenditure and Reform Minister Michael McGrath updated ministers this week on progress to strengthen gender diversity on state boards across the Irish public sector.

There is extensive literature to show that board effectiveness is enhanced where boards are more diverse in their make-up, bringing different views, and experiences to the decisions being brought to the board.

Mr McGrath noted significant progress has been made. By June 2021, over 50 per cent of all state boards met the goal of having at least 40 per cent of both men and women members. At an aggregate level, women make up 45 per cent of all members of state boards.

The minister also reported that in 2020, 54 per cent of all appointments made to state boards were women and that for the first quarter of 2021, this figure was 51.5 per cent.

Mr McGrath said: “I am strongly committed to building on the progress made in recent years to strengthen gender diversity on our state boards. I was pleased to be able to launch improvements to the Code of Practice for the Governance of State Boards last year, to further strengthen the processes around board appointments, and to ensure that gender diversity is properly considered in making those appointments.

“State boards have responsibility for very significant levels of taxpayer funds – and we know that boards with greater gender diversity are more likely to make better decisions, to safeguard the effective use of those funds.

“While we are at well in excess of 40 per cent female representation on state boards overall, almost half of all state boards are falling short of this target. While I am pleased with the progress being made, I will be examining further options to accelerate this progress, and to drive change in the 100 state boards which do not at present meet the goals set by government.”

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