What to do about Ireland’s financial services gender gap

In Ireland's financial services industry, just 13 per cent of those at chief executive level are women. How can the balance be redressed?

In Ireland’s financial services industry, just 13 per cent of those at chief executive level are women, according to data published by the 30% Club this year.

The stats mirror the representation of women in finance in so many countries across the world, painting a gloomy picture for a diverse senior workforce that can draw on the widest possible range of talent, experiences and innovation.

The 30% Club research reports a 50/50 split between men and women at Ireland’s entry level and on the lower rungs of the career ladder. However, moving up the scale reveals a stark and significant gap, culminating in the headline figure of 87 per cent men and 13 per cent women at chief executive level.

It is imperative that more women are considered for senior roles in the range of disciplines covered by the umbrella of Ireland’s finance industry.

In the UK, there are promising signs that improvement is happening, with 272 companies having signed up to the Women in Finance Charter, a commitment by HM Treasury and signatory firms to work together to build a more balanced and fair industry.

A slow pace of change for gender diversity

However, in other countries, including Ireland, the pace of change leaves much to be desired. BNY Mellon managing director Carol Andrews, reporting on the gender gap for the Irish Independent, describes the progress as ‘extremely slow, even glacial’.

Improving the representation of women in Ireland’s financial services sector can be achieved. For example, while board quotas can be controversial, they may offer a greater path to gender diversity.

Flexible working is also a key consideration. At present, 43 per cent of Irish finance employees believe that availing of flexible working arrangements would lead to their commitment to the organisation being questioned. Looking at the gender breakdown for part-time working – 3 per cent males and 31 per cent females – it is easy to see how women could be passed over for senior roles. This culture can and should change.

Finally, we need to celebrate the achievements of women that are breaking down barriers and proving that more equal gender representation in senior positions in finance is the right way to go.

The Women in Finance Awards is coming to Ireland with a clear message: We must seek to redress this gender imbalance by showcasing the achievements of women in the sector and identifying new role models.

Already established in London, the Women in Finance Awards is Europe’s largest diversity initiative recognising the high-achievers, advocates, and role models for women in the sector.

The second annual Women in Finance awards was hosted on the 27th June at the Royal Lancaster Hotel in London with 800 of the UK’s top finance professionals gathering to celebrate leadership in diversity and inclusion.

Organised by GrowthBusiness.co.uk and What Investment magazine, our inaugural Ireland event will reward the exceptional achievement of women across a range of finance sectors, from the world of venture capital and banking to accountancy and corporate law.

We look forward to receiving your nominations for this event and welcoming you to this, our first international Women in Finance Awards on November 22nd.

Nominate here for this event and you could join us at Clontarf Castle, Dublin, for the Women in Finance Awards Ireland on November 22.

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of SmallBusiness.co.uk and GrowthBusiness.co.uk from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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