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Key Findings

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

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

Key Findings

  • In 2023, one in four members or 25% of Boards of Directors in Ireland were female, up from almost 22% in 2021.

  • Female Chairpersons increased from 14% in 2021 to almost 19% in 2023.

  • Female Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) increased from more than 13% in 2021 to 19% in 2023.

  • Seven in ten Senior Executives in Ireland in 2023 were male.

  • Almost a quarter of enterprises (24.7%) had at least 40% female representation on their Boards of Directors in 2023.

  • In 2023, four in ten enterprises had set targets for the representation of females in Senior Executive roles.

Statistician's Comment

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) has today (11 September 2023) released Gender Balance in Business 2023. The Gender Balance in Business Survey provides statistics on gender representation in top management teams and Boards of Directors in Ireland. This is the third iteration of the biennial survey which began in 2019. Large enterprises (250 or more employees) were asked to provide information on the members of both their Senior Executive team and Board of Directors on 01 January 2023. Almost 700 enterprises were surveyed online, of which 69% completed the survey.

Commenting on the release, Colin Hanley, Statistician in the Business Statistics Division, said: “Today’s results show that Irish businesses continue to increase female representation at Senior Executive and Board level. 

In 2023, 25% of Boards of Directors in Ireland were female, an increase from almost 22% in 2021. Similarly, there was an increase in female Chairpersons, from 14% in 2021 to 19% in 2023. Almost one in five (19%) of Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) were female in 2023 compared with more than 13% in 2021. There was a slight increase in the overall number of female Senior Executives in 2023, rising to 30.4% in 2023 from 29.7% in 2021.

One in four (24.7%) enterprises had at least 40% female representation at Board level in Ireland in 2023 compared with 18.4% in 2021. In 2023, 29.4% of enterprises had at least 40% female representation at Senior Executive level, compared with 28.6% in 2021. Meanwhile, more than four in ten (41.4%) enterprises indicated that they had set targets for female representation at Senior Executive level in 2023.”

Headline Table

Gender breakdown by senior roles in business, 2019, 2021 and 2023%
 201920212023
 MaleFemaleMaleFemaleMaleFemale
Chairpersons92.67.486.014.081.318.7
Boards of Directors80.419.678.221.875.424.6
Chief Executive Officers (CEOs)88.511.586.613.481.019.0
Senior Executives71.728.370.329.769.630.4
Chief Financial Officers (CFOs)70.329.771.928.174.325.7
Source: Central Statistics Office

Senior Roles in Business

In 2023, 24.6% of Boards of Directors in Ireland were female while 75.4% were male, compared with 21.8% of females and 75.4% of males in 2021. Female Chairpersons increased from 14.0% in 2021 to 18.7% in 2023. Female Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) increased from 13.4% in 2021 to 19.0% in 2023, the largest increase among senior roles. More than a quarter (25.7%) of Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) were female, a drop from 28.1% in 2021. Overall, three in ten (30.4%) Senior Executives in 2023 were female compared with 69.6% males.

X-axis labelFemaleMale
Chairpersons18.781.3
Boards of Directors24.675.4
Chief Executive Officers (CEOs)1981
Senior Executives30.469.6
Chief Financial Officers (CFOs)25.774.3

Senior Executives

In 2023, more than a third (38.2%) of persons appointed to Senior Executive positions who were in their role for less than one year were female, while 26.3% of Senior Executives in their roles for five or more years were also female. In 2023, the proportion of long serving male Senior Executives with five or more years in the position had dropped from 75.9% in 2021 to 73.7% in 2023.

X-axis labelMaleFemale
Less than
1 year
(2019)
65.834.2
Less than
1 year
(2021)
63.736.3
Less than
1 year
(2023)
61.838.2
1-2 years
(2019)
69.930.1
1-2 years
(2021)
64.835.2
1-2 years
(2023)
64.935.1
3-4 years
(2019)
69.630.4
3-4 years
(2021)
68.731.3
3-4 years
(2023)
65.134.9
5 or more
years
(2019)
75.124.9
5 or more
years
(2021)
75.924.1
5 or more
years
(2023)
73.726.3
Table 1 Gender breakdown of Senior Executives by time in position, 2019, 2021 and 2023

In 2023, 69.5% of appointments to Senior Executive posts were from within the enterprise, while 30.5% of such positions were filled externally. A higher proportion of female external appointments (37.9%) were made in 2023 compared with 34.8% of internal female appointments.

For long labels below use
to display on multiple lines
Percentage
Male65.2
Female34.8
For long labels below use
to display on multiple lines
Percentage
Male62.1
Female37.9
Table 2 Gender breakdown of internal and external Senior Executives appointments, 2021 and 2023

Almost three in ten (28.8%) Senior Executives in Irish-owned enterprises in 2023 were female compared with 71.3% of males. Similarly, more than three in ten (31.4%) Senior Executives in foreign-owned enterprises in 2023 were female, up from 30.2% in 2021.

MaleFemale
Irish-owned
(2019)
73.826.2
Foreign-owned
(2019)
69.430.6
Irish-owned
(2021)
71.128.9
Foreign-owned
(2021)
69.830.2
Irish-owned
(2023)
71.328.8
Foreign-owned
(2023)
68.731.4
Table 3 Gender breakdown of Senior Executives by country of ownership of enterprise, 2019, 2021 and 2023

The Other service activities sector at 43.5% had the highest proportion of female Senior Executives in 2023. This was followed by Accommodation and food service activities (36.8%) and Financial and Insurance (33.9%). Although the Construction sector had the lowest level of female representation in Senior Executive roles in 2023 at 13.4%, it has increased from 9.5% in 2021.

X-axis labelFemaleMale
Industry (B to E)28.771.3
Construction (F)13.486.6
Wholesale and retail trade (G)31.268.8
Transportation and storage (H)26.273.8
Accommodation and food service activities (I)36.863.2
Information and communication (J)32.367.7
Financial and Insurance (K)33.966.1
Real estate and Professional, scientific and technical activities (L + M)32.767.3
Administrative and support service activities (N)29.670.4
Other service activities (R + S)43.556.5
Services (G to S, excl. O, P and Q)32.467.6
Table 4 Gender breakdown of Senior Executives by sector, 2019, 2021 and 2023

Boards of Directors

The gender breakdown of Boards of Directors of large enterprises in Ireland in 2023 comprised of 75.4% males and 24.6% females, compared with 80.4% male and 19.6% female in 2019. In 2023, 37.4% of Directors appointed were female compared with 30.8% in 2021. Of the Directors who had served on the board for 1-2 years in 2023, 31.0% were female, an increase from 20.4% reported in 2019. Of the Directors appointed for five or more years in 2023, 18.6% were female and 81.4% were male. 

X-axis labelMaleFemale
Less than
1 year
(2019)
69.930.1
Less than
1 year
(2021)
69.230.8
Less than
1 year
(2023)
62.637.4
1-2 years
(2019)
79.620.4
1-2 years
(2021)
67.132.9
1-2 years
(2023)
6931
3-4 years
(2019)
77.922.1
3-4 years
(2021)
80.519.5
3-4 years
(2023)
70.829.2
5 or more
years
(2019)
83.416.6
5 or more
years
(2021)
83.516.5
5 or more
years
(2023)
81.418.6
Table 5 Gender breakdown of Directors by time on the board, 2019, 2021 and 2023

In 2023, more than one in eight (13.3%) of all female board members had been appointed in the last year, while over a quarter (26.3%) had been on the board for 1 to 2 years. Directors with five or more years board membership in 2023 accounted for 58.1% of all male directors and 40.7% of all female directors.

5 or more years3 - 4 years1 - 2 yearsLess than 1 year
2019 Male55.617.317.49.7
2019 Female4519.918.117
2021 Male57.517.916.58.1
2021 Female41.615.829.513.1
2023 Male58.115.619.17.3
2023 Female40.719.726.313.3
Table 6 Length of time at board level for male and female directors, 2019, 2021 and 2023

In 2023, foreign-owned enterprises had a slightly higher percentage of female directors than Irish-owned enterprises; 25.0% of directors were female in foreign-owned and 24.2% were female in Irish-owned.

MaleFemale
Irish-owned
(2019)
81.218.8
Foreign-owned
(2019)
78.721.3
Irish-owned
(2021)
77.5122.49
Foreign-owned
(2021)
78.9821.02
Irish-owned
(2023)
75.924.2
Foreign-owned
(2023)
7525
Table 7 Gender breakdown of Directors by country of ownership of enterprise, 2019, 2021 and 2023

In 2023, 24.6% of the members on Boards of Directors in large enterprises in Ireland were female, an increase from 21.8% in 2021.  The Financial and Insurance sector had the highest percentage of female representation at board level at 31.4%, followed by Information and communication and Administrative and support service activities, at 30.2% and 30.0% respectively. The Construction sector had the largest male representation at 94.2% of board members, followed by Industry (80.5%) and Other service activities (78.9%).

X-axis labelFemaleMale
Industry (B to E)19.580.5
Construction (F)5.894.2
Wholesale and retail trade (G)22.877.2
Transportation and storage (H)28.971.1
Accommodation and food service activities (I)24.175.9
Information and communication (J)30.269.8
Financial and Insurance (K)31.468.6
Real estate and Professional, scientific and technical activities (L + M)26.673.4
Administrative and support service activities (N)3070
Other service activities (R + S)21.178.9
Services (G to S, excl. O, P and Q)27.772.3
Table 8 Gender breakdown of Directors by sector, 2019, 2021 and 2023

Chairpersons

Female representation of Board Chairpersons in large enterprises in Ireland increased to 18.7% in 2023 from 14.0% in 2021. For appointed Chairpersons who were on the board for less than one year in 2023, 44.0% were female and 56.0% were male, compared with 20.8% female and 79.2% male in 2021. More than a quarter (26.8%) of Chairpersons who were on the board for 1-2 years in 2023 were female. For appointed Chairpersons who were on the board for more than five years in 2023, the percentage of male appointees was 86.6%.

X-axis labelMaleFemale
Less than
1 year
(2019)
8119
Less than
1 year
(2021)
79.220.8
Less than
1 year
(2023)
5644
1-2 years
(2019)
95.74.3
1-2 years
(2021)
73.326.7
1-2 years
(2023)
73.226.8
3-4 years
(2019)
97.12.9
3-4 years
(2021)
86.713.3
3-4 years
(2023)
76.223.8
5 or more
years
(2019)
92.77.3
5 or more
years
(2021)
8911
5 or more
years
(2023)
86.613.4
Table 9 Gender breakdown of Chairpersons by time on the board, 2019, 2021 and 2023

In Irish-owned enterprises, the proportion of female Chairpersons showed a slight increase from 13.3% in 2021 to 14.5% in 2023, compared with an increase from 14.5% in 2021 to 21.2% in 2023 in foreign-owned enterprises.

MaleFemale
Irish-owned
(2019)
94.75.3
Foreign-owned
(2019)
89.410.6
Irish-owned
(2021)
86.7113.29
Foreign-owned
(2021)
85.4614.54
Irish-owned
(2023)
85.514.5
Foreign-owned
(2023)
78.921.2
Table 10 Gender breakdown of Chairpersons by country of ownership of enterprise, 2019, 2021 and 2023

Enterprises Representation

In 2023, 24.7% of enterprises had at least 40% female representation on their Boards of Directors compared with 18.4% in 2021. Almost three in ten (29.9%) Service enterprises had met this target compared with just 14.5% of enterprises in Industry & Construction.

Almost three in ten (29.4%) enterprises had 40% or more female representation at Senior Executive level. The Services sector had the highest proportion of enterprises with this level of female representation with 36.1%, while 32.8% of Wholesale and retail trade firms had 40% or more female representation. In the Industry & Construction sectors, 16.4% of enterprises had 40% or more female representation in executive management.

X-axis labelAt least 40% female Senior ExecutivesAt least 40% female Board of Directors
Industry (B to E) & Construction (F)16.414.5
Wholesale and retail trade (G)32.825.9
Services (H to S, excl. O, P and Q)36.129.9
All sectors29.424.7
Table 11 Percentage of enterprises with at least 40% female representation by leadership position and sector, 2021 and 2023

More than four in ten (41.4%) enterprises indicated that they had set targets for female representation at Senior Executive level. Of those enterprises that had set targets, 73.3% indicated that the achievement of targets was a performance goal of Senior Executives. Most enterprises (85.7%) set targets for the enterprise as a whole, while 14.3% set targets for each business function.

% of enterprises
Industry & Construction44.1
Distribution36.9
Services41.4
All sectors41.4
Table 12 Enterprises with targets for the representation of females at senior executive roles, 2023