Research from the Institute of Directors Ireland found that only 51pc of its members have a diversity policy or statement in place.
Almost three quarters (71pc) of Irish business leaders are in favour of board diversity targets rather than quotas (14pc) or other methods (15pc) of ensuring a more diverse board.
That’s according to the latest quarterly director sentiment monitor research report by the Institute of Directors (IoD) Ireland.
This research comes after the Council of the European Union decided that at least 40pc of non-executive director positions in listed companies should be held by members of the under-represented sex by 2026.
This EU decision will have to be transposed into Irish law. However, the IoD’s research shows that there is significant work to be done to up acceptance of quotas given the preference for targets.
Commenting on the results, Caroline Spillane, IoD CEO, said that the IoD will be highlighting this research to Government and encouraging the Cabinet to work further with businesses to achieve greater diversity.
“It is important to note that while targets are important, there are many diverse and important criteria to be considered in selecting board candidates in pursuit of a diverse and inclusive board. For example, the research found that meeting targets is not a high priority when influencing how a director is recruited, with filling a skills need highlighted as the key reason. Nevertheless, all boards will need to be aware of the current Government and EU targets and commitments with regard to gender targets in particular in this area. Much work needs to be done on this.”
Spillane added that boards should “address and review” their board composition policy and have an organisational diversity policy or statement.
The IoD’s research found that just over half (59pc) of its members have a board composition policy in place, while 51pc have a diversity policy or statement in place.
“I would encourage all boards who do not currently have one of these policies, to put one in place. This is a key enabler for ensuring a diverse and inclusive board and organisation,” said Spillane.
When the IoD asked leaders for their view on diverse and inclusive their workplace is currently, 36pc said they strongly agreed that their organisation did ensure a diverse and inclusive workplace.
Just under half (47pc) said they moderately agreed, while only 1pc strongly disagreed that their organisation worked to be inclusive and diverse.
The majority of Irish business leaders (69pc) believe that hybrid working is an advantage when it comes to creating a diverse and tolerant working environment, with only 3pc of leaders saying they strongly disagreed.
Spillane warned that it is “crucial” to monitor hybrid working’s true impact on diversity and inclusion over time.
“We do not want a scenario whereby on the surface it seems like it allows for more recruitment of a particular group. However, in truth it means then this group cannot progress in their career as they are not visible in the office due to remote working.”
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