Irish businesses still behind Europe in terms of gender equality

By Maeve Lee

Ireland’s Minister for Justice and Equality has claimed there is still “a substantial distance to travel for Irish businesses” in order to reflect European gender inclusivity.

Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan, and Minister of State, David Stanton, have welcomed progress in gender equality in time for International Women’s Day on 8 March. However, some Irish businesses are yet to change their views on gender equality.

The past year has seen many improvements in Ireland, such as the Istanbul Convention which aims to prevent domestic violence and introduce legislation for the reporting of gender pay. However, there remains some room for improvement.

“While welcoming these improvements, Ireland is still 2.8 percentage points behind the average in terms of women on company boards for the largest companies in the EU,” said Mr Flanagan.

“There is still a substantial distance to travel for Irish businesses to be gender inclusive, and not all businesses have accepted that they need to change,” he said.

In 2018, the Taoiseach launched the ‘Better Balance for Business’ initiative which aims to improve gender balance in senior business leadership. The initiative has set targets for increasing female representation of boards. Since 2018, the number of female directors has increased and those on ISEQ 20 boards has gone from 18.1% when the initiative was introduced, to 26.3% this month.

It is hoped that such improvements will continue for 2020.

“The aim is that, once the Strategy concludes at the end of 2020, there will be greater equality for women and girls. It is an important step towards an Ireland where all women enjoy equality with men and can achieve their full potential while enjoying a safe and fulfilling life,” said Mr Stanton.

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