New research shows that the commitment of Irish business to take concrete measures to promote gender diversity and inclusion has grown substantially over the last five years.

The new research published by the 30% Club shows that while in 2015 just 16% of organisations surveyed had a formal diversity and inclusion policy in place, now 46% have such a policy. 

92% of respondents also have some initiatives related to diversity and inclusion although the extent differs between organisations. 

The report - Women in Management - was presented to over 200 senior business leaders at Dublin Castle today at the annual Chairs and CEOs event hosted by the 30% Club Ireland. 

The 30% Club Ireland was set up in 2015, with a goal to achieve better gender balance at all levels in leading Irish businesses. 

The 30% Club believes that gender balance on boards and executive leadership not only encourages better leadership and governance, but further contributes to better all-round board performance, and ultimately increased corporate performance for both companies and their shareholders.

The 30% Club research also shows that women continue to make inroads into the management hierarchy, with percentages of women at all levels increasing since 2015.  

The data from 2015-2018 show the number of women in the lower levels of management increased from 30% to 45% over that period, while the proportion at executive director level rose from 23% to 30%, and at CEO level from 14% to 18%.

Today's report also shows that the prevalence of modern workplace supports and better management around family absence has grown since 2015. 

Policies and supports that have become more popular include top ups for maternity leave, top ups for paternity leave and agile working programmes. 

Flexible start and finish times are also available in 88% of organisations surveyed, with part-time work available in 80%.  Working from home can be availed of in 71%.

"The ability to have more choice and flexibility in work patterns continues to come through our surveys as the key requirement from the workforce, both male and female, and is becoming an essential part of modern work practices" commented Rachel Hussey, Chair of the 30% Club Ireland. 

But she said that while the data is quite encouraging, it refers only to the availability of such arrangements rather than their take-up.  

"Flexible working arrangements can be undermined by an organisation's culture if availing of them is perceived as career limiting, or if the practice is not adopted by senior role models as well," Ms Hussey added.

Today's report also found that while the setting of gender targets is still rare, there is progress in the use of measurement to track better balance within recruitment, performance and salary processes.

Within the organisations surveyed 48% believe opportunities for women within their organisations have improved in the past five years, but 46% believe they stayed the same.