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Better Boards, Better Business, Better Society – NWCI launches new handbook to increase the number of women on boards in Ireland

Published: Tuesday, March 03, 2015

In the lead up to International Women’s Day, renowned Icelandic woman entrepreneur, Halla Tomasdottir, launched “Better Boards, Better Business, Better Society”, the new National Women’s Council of Ireland handbook, which aims to increase the number of women on boards in Ireland today. The event was chaired by broadcaster and publishing entrepreneur, Norah Casey and co-hosted by the European Parliament.

According to Halla Tomasdottir, Co-founder of Sisters Capital, Iceland,
“Board performance is largely dependent upon us tapping into the economic power and potential of women.  It is neither smart nor sustainable for companies and economies to ignore the fact that diversity winners are pulling further ahead and diversity laggards are falling further behind. Women bring to the boardroom table a different attitude to risk, a leadership style that has been shown to fit current realities well as well as different moral and ethical attitudes, all of which help explain why their input is vital at all times, but even more so in times of uncertainty and economic difficulties.”

Orla O’Connor, Director of NWCI said,
“Increased numbers of women in senior decision making and in paid employment is critical for women's equality and for building a sustainable modern economy. The decisions that are made in Board rooms affect all aspects of our lives, excluding over half the population does not lead to effective and productive solutions.   More women in senior decision making will help to reduce the gender pay gap; address the skills shortages and also help address the segregation of women and men in employment. We need to shift the balance of power between women and men in Ireland and addressing the absence of women in boardrooms is central to making this change.”

Louise Glennon, Women in Leadership Officer at NWCI said,
“Our handbook not only examines why, but also how, to achieve gender balanced boardrooms. It calls on Government and businesses to take specific and targeted measures to increase the number of women on boards. Quotas have real merit as a mechanism for overcoming structural inequality. However quotas will only achieve lasting success, when used as part of a larger strategy that tackles board requirements. Leadership is critical from government, Chairs and CEOs. To ensure targets are met, we also need an independent review, as well as industry led gender targets, reflected in governance codes, and companies must be obliged to ‘comply or explain’ on progress.”

Lynn Boylan, MEP, said,
“Gender parity in positions of power be they that of the political arena or those of the boardroom are of crucial importance when it comes to social progress, justice and democracy. This is why it is important that the EU Directive is adopted and implemented without delay.”

Orla O’Connor concluded,
“The need for more women on boards is about women, and it is about business, but it is also about the society in which we live and the economy that services that society. Men and women stand to benefit from the realisation of these goals. Post-austerity Ireland is the ideal opportunity to implement change by valuing the contribution of women.  Ireland cannot afford to wait. “

Also speaking at the event was Jane Williams, Managing Director at The Sia Group Limited, Partner at Better Boards and Chairwoman at Pensions Authority of Ireland; and Francis Jacobs from the European Parliament office in Dublin.

For more information or a copy of the handbook, please contact Silke Paasche, National Women’s Council of Ireland, Tel. 085 858 9104