Minister Howlin welcomes findings of Institute of Director’s report on State boards

Issued 25 November 2015

Marking the first anniversary since the publication of Guidelines on Appointments to State Boards, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Brendan Howlin T.D., today (Wednesday 25 November 2015) welcomed the findings of research undertaken by the Institute of Directors (IOD), which indicate that ‘substantial progress has been made and the effects of the new guidelines are filtering through and resulting in real change in the composition of State boards in Ireland and their overall performance’.

The landmark guidelines introduced by Minister Howlin last year provide that appointments to State Boards must be advertised openly on the State Boards portal at, which is operated by the Public Appointments Service. The revised model aims to increase access to participation on State Boards, ensuring an open and transparent assessment process, contributing to strengthening in the calibre and quality of appointments.

Speaking today, Minister Howlin said that:

Our broad objective in revising the system for State board appointments has been to open the process to the largest possible pool of suitable candidates from across Irish society so that vacancies can be filled by candidates of the high calibre required to successfully undertake these challenging and demanding roles. 

I am very encouraged by the findings of the research carried out by the Institute of Directors which indicates that substantial progress is being made towards achieving this objective. I am particularly pleased with the finding that almost two thirds of State boards have achieved the 40% gender target that the Government set in July 2014”.

The Minister further stated:

“The IOD research shows that the changes to the State board appointments process that I announced last year are more than merely cosmetic but rather represent clear and substantial progress on this Government's reform agenda.

My Department, in conjunction with the Public Appointments Service, will be producing a full assessment in the New Year of the operation of the new procedures in their first year”.

Note to the Editor:

Among the findings of the IOD Research are:

  • ‘a seismic shift in attitudes since 2012 in terms of the perceived fairness and transparency in the process of appointments to State boards’ with ‘70% now considering the process to be fair and transparent, compared with just 26% of State board members in 2012’.
  • A significant majority of respondents considered that ‘the board on which they sit has the right mix of skills, knowledge and experience to deliver the agreed strategy over the next 3 to 5 years’ representing a 32% increase on 2012 findings.
  • ‘a significant increase in those considering their boards to be sufficiently diverse, with 77% of respondents of this view compared with 49% in 2012.’

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Target of 40% representation of females on State Boards within the lifetime of this Government

The Guidelines on State Board Appointments issued by Minister Howlin in November 2014 reiterate the Government’s decision of July 2014 to seek to achieve 40% representation of females on State Boards within the lifetime of this Government.

An examination of appointments made to State Boards under the revised approach provided for in the Guidelines indicate that significant progress continues to be made towards reaching this goal.

Up to beginning of this month (November 2014), under the guidelines, 235 vacancies have been advertised on 62 State Boards. 170 appointments have been made to 45 Boards. Of the almost 2,500 applications received for campaigns completed, 31% came from women, whilst 45% of the appointments are female.


There are over 4000 people registered on to be notified of vacancies arising on State Boards. Of those who specified their gender (97.5%), 59% are male and 41% female. The Public Appointments Service (PAS) is engaged in a communications programme to encourage women and men to register their interest – this involves briefings with representative groups, community organisations etc. as well as sharing information and drawing on best practice from organisations and individuals with experience and expertise in this area (e.g. The 30% Club).  

*The 30% Club is a global movement aimed at achieving better gender balance in business, which in Ireland has affirmed its commitment to creating a better gender balance at the helm of Irish organisations.