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Male-dominated company boards starkly at odds with female brainpower

Press Release

Wednesday 14 Jan 2015

MEP for Dublin Nessa Childers said that the marked gender imbalance in the composition of listed company boards demonstrates the need for measures to allow more women to reach leadership roles in the business sector.

Speaking from Strasbourg, where MEPs debated the Member States’ blocking of a proposed EU directive on women on boards since it was approved by the European Parliament in 2013, Ms. Childers said:

“Parliament would like to see 40% women sitting on non-executive directorship positions.

“However, looking at the current imbalance of about 18% female board members against a rate of over 60% women graduates in the EU, it is clear that we have a glass ceiling preventing many women from reaching the top, as happens in other areas.  According to 2013 figures women represented 8.7% of the board members of the largest publicly listed companies in Ireland, much below the EU average back then, which itself was under 16%.

“Obviously, we do not want to see this happening through undue facilities for unqualified candidates, but by creating conditions that allow women to apply and compete with their male counterparts on a level playing-field.

“This would include measures to improve the openness and transparency of the board appointment procedures, which does make sense from a sound corporate governance perspective, regardless of our specific goal here.

“I think means that, when candidates of equivalent calibre and qualifications apply, female candidates should be prioritised where women make up less than 40% of the board of listed companies.”

Contact: Mario De Sa 00-32-474 08 80 19 / Bronwen Maher 087-784 1937