Friday, March 08 11:09:10
Only 21pc of senior business roles in Ireland are filled by women, worse than the position four years ago, according to new research published today.
The 2013 figures, compiled by accountancy firm Grant Thornton to mark International Women's Day, show women in senior management unchanged on last year, and down slightly on the position in 2009.
The global average level of representation was 24pc (+3pc), with Ireland 36th out of 44 countries surveyed, just ahead of the UK and USA.
Sinead Donovan, Partner at Grant Thornton is disappointed by the figures.
"Ireland's lack of progress this year is disappointing, and even more frustrating is to see we have deteriorated from the position in 2009. One potential explanation is that the weakness of the Irish economy has given little room for career progression, which has allowed the status quo to endure."
Even with the lack of progress, only 37pc of the companies surveyed in Ireland would support the introduction of quotas on the number of women on the boards of large publicly listed companies. The global average was also 37pc, and the countries more in favour of a quota solution were largely those in emerging markets.
Other notable findings in the report included that 7pc of Irish companies plan to promote more women into senior management over the next 12 months while 17pc of board directorships in Ireland are held by women, despite a target set by the European Commission for women to make up 40pc of non-executive directorships by 2020.
On flexible working Ireland is the lowest ranked EU country apart from Greece, with 53pc of companies offering family friendly working solutions compared to an EU average of 74pc.
"There is widespread opposition to quotas which I think is understandable given that successful professional women in Ireland want a promotion because they are the best for the job, rather than a leg-up via legislation. However given the limited progress being made it is time for a greater debate around quotas and the role they can play in Ireland," said Ms Donovan.
"It is debatable whether greater availability of flexible working is a solution. Flexible working is not the only determining factor in increasing female participation in senior positions. In mature economies, the majority of businesses offer it, but that isn't translating into more women in senior roles or making it on to the board of directors."
The Grant Thornton International Business Report (IBR) provides insight into the views and expectations of more than 12,500 businesses per year across 44 economies, with 100 companies surveyed in Ireland.