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Minister McGrath updates Government on Strengthening Gender Diversity on State Boards

The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Michael McGrath TD, today (Wednesday), updated Government on progress to strengthen gender diversity on State Boards across the Irish public sector. Enhanced gender diversity on State Boards is a long standing commitment of Government and is also important to enhance the effectiveness of State Boards. There is extensive literature to show that Board effectiveness is enhanced where Boards are more diverse in their make-up, bringing different views, and experience to the decisions being brought to the Board.

The Minister noted the significant progress that has been made. By June 2021, over 50% of all State Boards met the goal of having at least 40% of both male and female members. At an aggregate level, the picture is even better, with females making up 45% of all members of State Boards. The Minister also reported that in 2020, 54% of all appointments made to State Boards were female, and that for the first quarter of 2021, this figure was 51.5%. This indicates a positive trend towards further progress for the future.

Minister McGrath said:

“I am strongly committed to building on the progress made in recent years to strengthen gender diversity on our State Boards. I was pleased to be able to launch improvements to the Code of Practice for the Governance of State Boards last year, to further strengthen the processes around board appointments, and to ensure that gender diversity is properly considered in making those appointments.

“State Boards have responsibility for very significant levels of taxpayer funds – and we know that Boards with greater gender diversity are more likely to take better decisions, to safeguard the effective use of those funds. "While we are at well in excess of 40% female representation on State Boards overall, almost half of all State Boards are falling short of this target.

“While I am pleased at the progress being made, I will be examining further options to accelerate this progress, and to drive change in the 100 State Boards which do not at present meet the goals set by Government.” EndsNotes for Editors

  1. Government has set as a goal that at least 40% of each gender should be represented on State Boards.
  2. The Annex to the Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies (September 2020) sets out a range of new procedures in relation to Board appointments. These included:
  • Subject to compliance with the relevant body's establishing legislation, board terms should be between 3 - 5 years, which may be renewed once to a maximum of 8 years (previously this was 10 years).
  • No member of a State Board should serve more than 2 full terms of appointment and no member should hold appointments to more than 2 State Boards at the same time.
  • The Comprehensive report to the Minister should include:
    • Details of the gender balance of appointments made to the State Board in the previous year.
    • Where the board stands vis-à-vis the 40% gender balance requirements and measures being take to address where the 40% requirements are not met.
    • Key elements of the board’s approach to promoting gender balance diversity and inclusion and progress being made in this area including the approach being pursued to promote gender balance and diversity in Board membership.
    • Measure being taken to address the situation where a board is either all male or all female.
  • The current gender composition of the board should be highlighted when making submissions to the Minister on board appointments and re-appointments and when writing to the Minister in connection with Board appointments and reappointments the Chair should draw attention to the current gender balance on the Board.
  • Each board should carry out an annual self-assessment evaluation and this process should incorporate a detailed analysis and critical assessment of the gender, diversity and skills mix within the board, including where relevant a critical assessment of the reasons why gender balance in Board membership has not yet been achieved..
  • The annual report of the board should give an account of the approach being adopted in regard to the promotion of diversity and inclusion, including with regard to gender, in the specific context of the organisation; and on the progress and achievements in this regard.



Claire Godkin - Press Officer, Department of Public Expenditure and Reform - 085 806 3969,