Three listed companies in Ireland still have all-male boards despite significant progress being made in achieving gender balance in the last year.

According to the fifth annual report from the Balance for Better Business Review Group, that figure was down from five all-male boards in 2021.

There was just one female Chair represented on the 20 biggest ISEQ-listed companies this year, the report concluded.

However, there was a substantial improvement in female representation on the boards of those companies with the report showing the percentage of women on ISEQ 20 boards rising to 36% this year.

That exceeded the 30% target set for the end of 2022 as well as the 33% target set for the end of 2023.

For other listed firms, the percentage of women on boards now stands at 26%, exceeding the 22% target set for the end of 2022.

That represents growth of 16 percentage points since 2018.

Three quarters of ISEQ 20 listed companies now have three or more female board members.

For other ISEQ listed companies, the number of companies with three or more women on their boards has for the first time exceeded 50% - at 51%.

In another first, Ireland has exceeded the EU27 average for the proportion of women on leading company boards by 1.6 percentage points, the report shows.

The gap between Ireland and the rest of the EU has narrowed every year since Balance for Better Business group was established in 2018.

"Those efforts to date are reflected in the progress that has been made across the past year in terms of gender balance at Board level, notwithstanding the fact that work remains to be done to ensure that women are able to progress into the most senior positions on Board and leadership teams." Julie Sinnamon, Balance for Better Business co-chair, said.

"While the progress made this year among businesses is to be welcomed, there are still too many companies with all male boards and leadership teams in Ireland," Balance for Better Business co-chair Aongus Hegarty said.

"This is despite the compelling business case of having an equal number of men and women in senior leadership positions including greater levels of innovation, enhanced financial returns and stronger Environmental, Social and Government (ESG) performance," he added.