Taoiseach Simon Harris joins 30% Club Ireland

Irish Taoiseach Simon Harris meeting the 30% Club Ireland team

The new Irish Taoiseach Simon Harris joined the 30% Club Ireland’s 10th Chair and CEO conference in Dublin today. 

Demonstrating his commitment to gender equality in business leadership, Simon showed up as a male ally to our cause. 

He joined a large gathering of CEOs and chairs from 30% Club Ireland’s member companies, who represent over 650,000 employees across Ireland. These include both the private, publicly listed, and public service sectors.

The 30% Club is a global campaign supported by Board Chairs and CEOs of medium and large organisations, committed to achieving better gender balance at leadership levels and throughout their organisations, for better business outcomes.

Since it was established in Ireland ten years ago , the gender balance on Irish listed boards (ISEQ20) has more than trebled – from 12.5% then, to 40% today.

Gender Power Gap

One of this year’s themes looks at how companies can address the gender power gap that still exists within many Irish businesses and organisation. This is defined as the proportional power held by women in leadership and management positions, relative to men, which is often defined by historical stereotypes, with human resources as an example. The measurement differs from gender diversity, which only measures the presence of women at the top table, and the gender pay gap, which measures the average difference in remuneration.

As an example, only 25.7% of CFO roles are currently held by women, and this has decreased from 29.7% in 2019, CSO data shows. With CFO roles as important talent pipeline for Chair and CEO roles, addressing this imbalance becomes critical in modern succession planning. Achieving gender power balance is one of the topics that will be discussed by two panels, which will mark the successful progress across Irish business in the 10 years to date and consider where to next.

Panellists include: Myles O’Grady, Bank of Ireland chief executive; Eamonn Sinnott, Interim Head, Intel, Magdeburg, Germany; Carol Andrews, Co-chair Balance for Better Business; Lorna Conn, Cpl chief executive; Hanneke Smits Global Chair 30% Club and Global Head of Investment Management, BNY Mellon, Paddy Hayes, ESB chief executive and Michael Jackson, Managing Partner, Matheson.


Taoiseach Simon Harris told the audience of almost 300 that all women and men in Ireland should have equal access to opportunity, and that Ireland can be exemplary leaders in achieving full gender balance on boards and senior leadership teams, where our publicly listed companies have already exceeded the 33% quota set by the EU Women on Boards directive.

“I’m delighted to join leaders from across the private and public sector to support the important work of the 30% Club. Ireland has a huge pool of talent, and experience, so there is no reason why we cannot ensure boards and senior teams are gender balanced,” he said.

“The Ireland we live in must be reflected across business and wider society, because decisions that can embrace a wide spectrum of viewpoints will be the most informed ones. We have made significant progress to date but there is still a long way to go. I urge all business leaders to embrace gender balance, along with diversity and inclusion. It makes business stronger


Meliosa O’Caoimh, Outgoing Chair of 30% Club Ireland and Northern Trust Ireland Country Head, said what was important from her perspective is continuing the focus on all women.

“Gender is a majority not a minority issue, and a clear focus is still needed. This includes encouraging next generation talent and putting a particular focus on incorporating a regional view in our work. What has been achieved over the last decade in Ireland is fantastic, but we know there is still more to be done to maintain, and advance momentum, for better business outcomes.”

International trends and the likely challenges and hurdles of the next 10 years were also debated, along with examining where the future CEOs and Board chairs will come from, and how the power gap can be collectively closed. The panels also commented on the need to embed progress in every organisation, and not just rely on averages as a strong indicator. This is important in Ireland where CSO data shows that while we make progress on an average basis, 21% of C-suite teams still operate on an all-male basis.


Mary McAleese, former President of Ireland, joined 30% Club Ireland's CEO event
Mary McAleese, former President of Ireland with new Irish Taoiseach Simon Harris

Paula Neary, incoming 30% Club Ireland Chair and a Senior Managing Director at Accenture, said her focus in the new role will be on how we “can use this moment as we redefine new flexible workplaces and new workforces augmented by AI, on changing the system, rather than the people”, and an 
‘all gender’ agenda – versus a female agenda – that emphasises new ways of working that support men and women equally, to flourish and progress in modern careers.


“I am honoured and delighted to take over as chair of such an important initiative, which I have supported – and been part of – since its inception.

“If we are going to successfully drive and initiate more progress in this area, we need to look through a wider diverse lens, across society. That means thinking about how we engage everyone – especially younger men in the conversation on changing culture, behaviours and attitudes. Such a focus leads to better workplace outcomes for all talent – in terms of attraction and retention – and is critical to the economic success across Ireland.”

Green shoots of change in Australian boardrooms


In an increasingly complex environment post the global pandemic, boards are facing into new and interconnected landscapes.

There is the suite of digital trends, including AI, robotics and cyber security, more exacting customer expectations enabled by new digital fluencies, workforce transformations underpinned by hybrid ways of working, and the demand for reskilling and greater regulatory scrutiny. 

This new reality prompted the 30%+ Club Australia and Deloitte Australia to investigate whether boards are future fit to manage risks and seize opportunities.

Having interviewed board members, executive search firms and investors, they challenged boards to consider complementing the traditional skillsets of governance, law and finance through the additional appointment of directors with diverse professional expertise in digital, marketing/customer and human capital.

Read the full report to find out more about Australia’s progress toward diversity in business leadership and 30% Club Australia’s work here

Where we are

The 30% Club has come a long way from when it was set up in the UK in 2010.We now span six continents and more than 20 countries. We’re actively expanding into more G20 countries

Find out more

Matheson sponsors 30% Club Ireland role

30% Ireland leadership plus sponsor

The 30% Club Ireland has announced that leading Irish law firm Matheson will provide funding for activities, through its support of the 30% Club Country Executive Role, for the next 12 months.

The Irish chapter of the 30% Club works to support the achievement of a minimum of 30% gender balance at all senior decision-making tables across Ireland, including boards and C-suite.

 Since its inception 10 years ago, the percentage of women on boards in Ireland has increased from 12%, to 39% for the ISEQ 20 and to 28% for other listed companies – with more work to be done for private companies, and even greater focus needed for improved balance at C-suite.  

Read the full press release here

Picture caption – L to R: 30% Club Ireland Country Executive Gillian Harford, Matheson Managing Partner, Michael Jackson and Northern Trust Ireland Country Head/30% Club Ireland Chair, Meliosa O’Caoimh

Where we are

The 30% Club has come a long way from when it was set up in the UK in 2010.We now span six continents and more than 20 countries. We’re actively expanding into more G20 countries

French firm must do more to reach 40% female ExCo target

French companies are on the right path to meet the first step of the Rixain law requiring at least 30% women representation on executive committees, according to the 30% Club France Investor Group.

The 30% Club France Investor Group’s third annual report reveals SBF120 Executive Committees are nearing an average 30% women’s representation, an increase of 2.4% compared to 2022.

Yet, this average percentage reflects very disparate situations as the SBF120 is evenly split between companies with less than and above 30% female representation.

Nearly all the companies have targets and action plans in place, but these targets lack consistency in terms of scope and granularity.

Addressing these disparities is crucial, especially to meet the challenging second target of the Rixain Law (40% by 2030).
Read more in the full report here.

Where we are

The 30% Club has come a long way from when it was set up in the UK in 2010.We now span six continents and more than 20 countries. We’re actively expanding into more G20 countries

Gender gap widens across OECD to 13.5%

Pay gap

It will take over 50 years to close the gender pay gap across the OECD! That’s the finding of PwC‘s latest Women in Work report.

The average gender pay gap across the OECD stood at 13.5% in 2022, having widened from 13.2% in 2021.

Luxembourg tops the index with a gap of -0.2%. 

Australia demonstrated the best annual improvement, closing its gap by four percentage points to 9.9% and moving up to 10th place in the index.

The UK reported the largest slide of any OECD country, dropping from 13th place in on the index in 2021 to 17th in 2022 with a gap of 114.5%.

Read the full report here.

Where we are

The 30% Club has come a long way from when it was set up in the UK in 2010.We now span six continents and more than 20 countries. We’re actively expanding into more G20 countries

Find out more

UK FTSE 100 reach 30% women on ExCos


The UK’s top 100 ranked companies have reached the critical mass of 30% women in executive committees for the first time.  

The FTSE Women Leaders Review has also confirmed women hold 35% of all leadership roles in FTSE 350 companies and 42% of board seats. 

However, despite much welcomed progress for female representation, there remains an absence of women leading the UK’s largest organisations. And almost half of all available appointments now need to go to a woman to meet the Review’s 40% Women in Leadership target by the end of 2025. 

Pavita Cooper, UK Chair of the 30% Club, said: “Organisations need to double down on efforts to accelerate the progression of women through the pipeline. CEOs and Chairs need to drive the focus on closing this gap, failing to do so is simply bad for business.”

Read the full report here

Where we are

The 30% Club has come a long way from when it was set up in the UK in 2010.We now span six continents and more than 20 countries. We’re actively expanding into more G20 countries

Australia’s top 20 companies hit 40% women on board

Australia stock

Australia’s top 20 ranked companies made history this quarter (Q2 2023) achieving an aggregate 40 per cent women on their boards.

This success reflects the long-term efforts of chairs, boards, regulators, investors, executive search firms and campaigns like the 30% Club Australia that have ensured continued stakeholder scrutiny of appointments to listed boards.

Of course, the aggregate figures do not tell the whole story. Across the 759 directorships currently held by women in the ASX 300, an overwhelming number are non-executive directors (685) while just 37 are executive or managing directors including CEOs, and only 37 are chairs.

Read the full report to find out more about Australia’s progress toward gender equality in business leadership and 30% Club Australia’s work here

Where we are

The 30% Club has come a long way from when it was set up in the UK in 2010.We now span six continents and more than 20 countries. We’re actively expanding into more G20 countries

Toxic workplace culture is not something unique to the CBI

Hanneke Smits

Corporate culture is often said to be defined by the worst act you allow to take place in your organisation. What is alleged to have taken place at the CBI exposes the very real human cost of failure.

As global chair of the 30% Club, a campaign that advocates for representation of women on the boards of some of the world’s biggest companies, I am deeply concerned by the failures that have engulfed the CBI. Our thoughts are with the women who have been victimised and we stand with them in solidarity.

Our fear at the 30% Club is that the failings currently under investigation are not limited to the CBI. Last year, Randstad reported that 72 per cent of women working in technology, healthcare, education and construction said they had either encountered or witnessed inappropriate behaviour from male colleagues at work. And analysis by the Scottish TUC reported that 85 per cent of women said that their reporting and experience of sexual harassment in the workplace was not taken seriously and dealt with appropriately. What is alleged to have happened at the CBI is indicative of this very issue.

A toxic workplace culture is a significant factor in the continued under-representation of women in business leadership and why gender equality can so often feel like a distant goal. We may be close to 40 per cent women on boards across the FTSE 100, but there are just nine female chief executives. We need greater representation of women at the top. Women should be taken seriously at work. Women, and quite frankly everyone, should be safe at work.

Hanneke Smits
Global Chair, The 30% Club

Where we are

The 30% Club has come a long way from when it was set up in the UK in 2010.We now span six continents and more than 20 countries. We’re actively expanding into more G20 countries

30% Club Ireland launches 2023 scholarships

30% Club Ireland

The 30% Club Ireland, whose aim is to achieve better gender balance at all levels in Irish businesses, has announced two new development opportunities for women in business – a 2023 programme of 27 postgraduate and executive education scholarships and, in partnership with AIB, 30 access opportunities for women in SMEs on the IMI/30% Club cross-company mentoring programme.

The scholarship programme, which is delivered in partnership with key education providers, covers a range of executive education disciplines including prestigious MBA programmes and technical masters programmes in STEM, Healthcare, Public Policy and other specialist areas. 

First offered in 2015, the annual programme aims to raise participation rates for women in, and general awareness of, executive education and to provide financial support for women interested in executive education, who may be limited by funding concerns. 


Gillian Harford, Country Executive with the 30% Club commented: “International Women’s Day takes place on March 8th. But it is about more than celebrating just one day, it is about taking real and practical steps that will help to bring about more balanced investment in talent and career progression.

“Having offered just three scholarships in year one, we are delighted now to be offering 27 scholarships for 2023”, said Ms Harford. “In addition to providing great opportunities for talented women, the programme gives us, and our education partners, the opportunity to encourage more diversity in executive classrooms for greater learning outcomes.”

The scholarship programme is open to all women and is not restricted to 30% Club member company supporters.

In partnership with AIB, the 30% Club has also announced a new 3-year initiative that will provide sponsored access for 30 women from the SME sector to the IMI/30% Club Cross Company Mentoring programme.  The IMI/30% Club programme started in 2015 and brings together experienced leaders and mid-career high potential individuals for mentoring focused on both professional and personal development.


Where we are

The 30% Club has come a long way from when it was set up in the UK in 2010.We now span six continents and more than 20 countries. We’re actively expanding into more G20 countries

Hanneke Smits welcomed as 30% Club global chair

Hanneke Smits
Our new Global Chair Hanneke Smits is CEO of BNY Mellon Investment Management

The 30% Club is delighted to announce the appointment of Hanneke Smits, CEO of BNY Mellon Investment Management, as its fourth Global Chair, succeeding Ann Cairns.

Hanneke has been a long-time champion of improving gender diversity in the workplace. In 2015, she co-founded Level 20, a not-for-profit organisation established to inspire women to succeed in the private equity industry.

Hanneke also serves as Chair of Impetus, a venture philanthropy organisation that backs charities to transform the lives of disadvantaged young people.

At BNY Mellon, Hanneke is the Executive Sponsor of PRISM, the company’s LGBTQ+ employee group, and as CEO of BNY Mellon Investment Management since October 2020, one of the largest asset managers in the world with $1.8 trillion in assets under management.

She has championed numerous initiatives such as Newton’s work with the Diversity Project to ensure that returning female portfolio managers were able to maintain their investment track record, and BNY Mellon’s partnership with Inspiring Girls through The Pathway to Inclusive Investment research in 2022, and being an early supporter of the UK’s #10000BlackInterns programme.

Hanneke succeeds Ann Cairns as global chair of the 30% Club.

Ann, who retired as Executive Vice Chair of Mastercard at the end of 2022, joined the campaign in 2019 as Co-Chair, working with the late Brenda Trenowden before becoming sole global Chair in 2020.

Hanneke Smits, CEO of BNY Mellon Investment Management, said:  “It is an honour to succeed Ann Cairns as Global Chair of the 30% Club and to continue its mission of increasing the number of women at board and senior management levels.

“The role of the 30% Club is as vital now as it was at launch in 2010. Even today, the baseline target of reaching 30% women – either at board or senior management level – remains a stretch for many organisations throughout the world. Reaching the campaign’s ultimate goal of gender parity will take significant effort and investment.

“I look forward to continuing to grow the 30% Club internationally and tackle a wider range of diversity challenges, inside and outside the boardroom.”

30% Club Global
Ann Cairns
Outgoing chair Ann Cairns expanded the 30% Club internationally

Under the leadership of Ann, the 30% Club formed new chapters in Mexico, Colombia and Chile and welcomed Poland, Ecuador and an investor group in France to the campaign.

Her involvement with UN Women’s Outstanding Women’s Leaders Group saw the 30% Club, Melinda French-Gates and the UN Foundation convene what is presumed to be the world’s biggest meeting of CEOs and company chairs to discuss gender equality in May 2021.

Cairns also broadened the UK chapter’s target to focus on racial equality, which included the launch of the Mission INCLUDE strand of the 30% Club’s world-leading and cross-company mentoring programme enabling individuals from all underrepresented groups to participate.

She also launched the Leaders for Race Equity CEO development programme last year in partnership with Change the Race Ratio and Moving Ahead.

Ann Cairns, outgoing Global Chair of the 30% Club, said: “On behalf of the members of the 30% Club, we are proud to welcome Hanneke as our new Global Chair. It will be invaluable to have a respected leader of Hanneke’s experience and calibre join the global campaign at a time when many companies are still struggling to achieve diversity at board and executive levels.

“In the UK, for instance, we may have reached 40% women on the boards of the FTSE 100, but the majority remain in non-executive roles; there are just 25% women at executive committee level and just eight female CEOs. Women of colour remain under-represented at every managerial and leadership level. We must continue to keep diversity and inclusion high on the agenda.”

This is the second time BNY Mellon Investment Management has taken a leadership role within the 30% Club. The campaign was launched in 2010 by Dame Helena Morrissey, who was the then CEO of Newton Investment Management, one of BNY Mellon Investment Management’s investment firms.

Newton and BNY Mellon Investment Management were early supporters of the campaign’s goals and helped encourage many chairs of Britain’s biggest companies to commit to the initial target of 30% women on their boards. This target was reached across the FTSE 100 in September 2019 and there are now 40% women on boards.

This transparency allows firms to learn together ‘what works’ for the fair inclusion of Black women in finance, professional services and big technology. Given that the pay gaps experienced by Black women are the largest in the sectors studied, making Black women the benchmark for real change within organisations is appropriate. 

Training, recruitment, operations, promotions, procurement, strategies, and policies should be evidently inclusive of Black women. The call for greater transparency through reporting, audits and monitoring of the progress of Black women will help ensure firms are on track.

The 30% Club would like to thank UK steering committee member Karin Barnick, a partner at executive search and leadership advisory firm Korn Ferry in London, who led the search for the new global chair on a pro bono basis. 

Work to do

Where we are

The 30% Club has come a long way from when it was set up in the UK in 2010.We now span six continents and more than 20 countries. We’re actively expanding into more G20 countries