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Cork East Fine Gael TD and Minister of State with special responsibility for Equality, Immigration and Integration, David Stanton, has announced the formation of a business-led review group, the Better Balance for Better Business initiative, to promote better gender balance on corporate boards and in the senior management of leading Irish companies.

Launched with An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, at Government Buildings, Minister Stanton has confirmed that Gary Kennedy (Green REIT plc / Greencore Plc / Connect Group plc.) and Bríd Horan (ESB / Nephin Energy Ltd / Irish Management Institute / Club Ireland) will co-chair the review group.

The review group is comprised of a number of senior figures in Irish business and the public service including Carol Andrews (BNY Mellon / Club Ireland), Mark Fitzgerald (Sherry Fitzgerald), Aongus Hegarty (Dell EMC EMEA), Danny McCoy (IBEC), Martin Shanahan (IDA Ireland), Julie Sinnamon (Enterprise Ireland), Fiona Tierney (Eir / Irish Management Institute / Public Appointments Service), and Dr. Orlaigh Quinn (Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation).

The current percentage of women on the boards of Irish listed companies continues to be very low. Over one third of companies listed on the main markets of Euronext Dublin (formerly the Irish Stock Exchange) are without a woman in the boardroom. Women currently make up only 18.1% of directors of Irish-registered ISEQ20 companies, which is significantly lower than the EU average of 26.2% for large publicly-listed companies.

The group will have the task of identifying a programme of actions to be taken by Government and by business to increase the percentage of women on corporate boards and in senior management in leading Irish companies. It will engage with companies to make the case for change and will report annually on its progress.

Speaking at the announcement, Minister Stanton pointed to the range of actions being undertaken to promote gender equality “Better Balance for Better Business is one of a number of initiatives that the Government is taking to promote gender equality. I am driving forward the implementation of the National Strategy for Women and Girls which has a wide-ranging agenda for change. The strategy is working to open up opportunities for women and girls in all areas of Irish life including the workplace, politics, sport and the arts.

The barriers that limit women’s potential also diminish men too. It is in the interests of men and boys that we have a society that is willing to realise and maximise the potential of all of its members. That is why I urge male business leaders to play their part in supporting this initiative. I look forward to working closely with Better Balance for Better Business and with the Irish business sector to bring about sustainable cultural change.”

Minister David Stanton, Bríd Horan, An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Gary Kennedy