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Background Notes

A quarter of Boards of Directors in Ireland in 2023 were female

Online ISSN: 2565-6481
CSO statistical publication, , 11am


The Gender Balance in Business Survey provides the first official statistics from the CSO on gender representation in Senior Executive teams and Boards of Directors of large enterprises in Ireland. The survey was conducted in response to the Balance for Better Business initiative and it aims to provide benchmark information on gender representation. The 2023 survey is the third iteration of the survey which repeats every two years.

The survey was collected by the CSO between May and August 2023. The online questionnaire asked for the gender breakdown of the Senior Executive team and Boards of Directors.


The scope of the survey is large enterprises (i.e. those with over 250 employees). A total of nearly 700 enterprises were surveyed and the response rate to the survey was 69%. The survey returns analysed in this report comprise about 6,500 persons in Senior Executive positions or on Boards of Directors in the respondent enterprises.  

The results from the sample are unweighted and are mainly presented as percentage breakdowns between male and female.

Statistical Confidentiality

The survey was collected from enterprises under the Statistics (Gender Balance in Business Survey) Order 2021 (S.I. No. 93/2021) made under the Statistics Act 1993.

The information collected in the survey is confidential under the Statistics Act and will only be used by the Central Statistics Office for the compilation of aggregate statistics. The CSO has checked the statistical outputs of the survey to ensure that tables do not disclose details of any individual or company. In general, this means that the results do not include multi-variate cross-classifications. The raw data will not be shared with any other organisations.

The CSO wishes to thank all the companies that took part in the Gender Balance in Business Survey 2023.


The survey was collected via an online questionnaire. For the Senior Executive Team, the survey asked for name, job title, gender, length of time in years in the position and the length of time in years working in the company. For the Boards of Directors, the survey asked the name of the board members, whether executive or non-executive, gender and length of time in years on the board. The questions distinguished the post of Chair of Board.

For the purposes of the survey, Senior Executives were defined as those individuals at the highest level of management of an organisation who have the day-to-day tasks of managing that organisation and who hold executive powers delegated to them with and by authority of a Board of Directors and/or the shareholders. A Board of Directors was defined as a recognised group of people who jointly oversee the activities of an organisation or company and which is the highest authority in the management of the company and sets out the overall strategic direction to be taken.


The survey covered all large enterprises, i.e. those with over 250 employees. The sectors included in the survey were NACE sections B to S excluding NACE sections O, P and Q (see below for explanation of NACE classification).

Classification by Sector

The results include a breakdown into the following NACE Rev. 2 sections (NACE is the EU classification of Economic Activity):

 NACE Rev. 2 Description
Section B Mining and quarrying
Section C Manufacturing
Section D Electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply
Section E Water supply; sewerage, waste management and remediation activities
Section F Construction
Section G  Wholesale and retail trade; Repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles
Section H  Transportation and storage 
Section I  Accommodation and food service activities 
Section J Information and communication
Section K Financial and insurance activities
Section L Real estate activities
Section M Professional, scientific and technical activities
Section N Administrative and support service activities
Section R Arts, entertainment and recreation
Section S Other service activities

NACE sections O (Public administration and Defence), P (Education) and Q (Human Health and social work activities) were not included in the survey.

Further information on the NACE Rev 2 classification is available at:

Nationality of Ownership

The results include breakdowns between Irish-owned and Foreign-owned businesses. The classification by nationality of ownership is determined by the nationality of the owners of 50 per cent or more of the share capital.