The Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies (2016) (the Code) has been updated to take account of the recommendations of the Inter-Departmental Group on Gender Balance on State Boards, which were published in March 2019.
A key requirement of the Code was that appointments to State Boards should be made with due regard for the benefits of diversity and gender balance. In practice achieving such diversity at board level remains an ongoing challenge for many organisations including State Boards. The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform have now published an Annex to the Code dealing with Gender Balance, Diversity and Inclusion (Annex).
- 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).
- The annual report of the body should include details of gender balance; where the board stands vis-à-vis the 40% gender balance requirement; the key elements of the boards approach to promoting gender balance and diversity and the measures 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.
- The Code requires each board to carry out an annual self-assessment evaluation and the Annex stipulates that this process should incorporate a detailed analysis and critical assessment of the gender, diversity and skills mix within the board.
- 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.
- The Annex includes model statements and self-assessment questions dealing with the above.
The Annex urges State bodies to lead the way in seeking to achieve gender balanced and diverse boards. It notes that the performance of a State body is measured not only economically but also by reference to its culture, inclusivity and diversity as well as the well-being of employees and stakeholders. The Annex states:
"Organisations that have an effective and inclusive culture demonstrate a commitment to high performance and public service values."
See our earlier article on the 2016 Code of Practice here.