Number of Women in Senior Management Roles Dips

8th March 2022

Posted In: FYI

Changes to workplace practices over the past two years are offering women better supports to progress their careers but attaining senior management roles across industries remains a challenge, according to new data gathered by professional services firm Grant Thornton.

A survey of mid-size Irish business for the Grant Thornton International Business Report revealed

71% of businesses in Ireland believe new hybrid work models opens up greater opportunities for women.

This is in line with the 73% of businesses globally which reported greater opportunities for women through hybrid working models. The Grant Thornton research surveyed businesses in 29 economies internationally.

However, new data contained in the Women in Business report also reveals the number of women who hold senior management roles has dropped off.

In Ireland, 30% of senior management roles are held by women, down from 33% reported in 2021.

Globally, the number of women in senior management roles sits at 32%, according to the research.

The Women in Business report also revealed some 19% of businesses in Ireland have no women in senior management positions, while 21% of Irish businesses have just one woman in senior management positions.

Ireland appears to fare worse when compared to our neighbours in the UK where 2% of businesses have no women in senior management positions. Meanwhile in the European Union more broadly, some 14% of businesses have no women in senior management positions.

Sinead Donovan, Partner in Financial Accounting and Advisory Services at Grant Thornton said, ‘The challenges we have faced with COVID in the business world have been complex – undoubtedly it has forced employers to change long held perceptions around flexible working and the ability to work effectively in different ways. This is to be welcomed.

‘However, it has been shown that COVID has had a larger impact on women than men when it came to balancing the pressures of domestic and professional live. Hence, I am not surprised, but I am dismayed to see the fall off in females in senior positions over the past couple of years. The underlying reason for this needs to be examined and hybrid working is not the only answer.

Now more than ever, we need to ensure that gender parity is driven hard in business as I fear we are at a juncture that could pivot in a negative spiral or in a positive message – how this is balanced is up to us as leaders – male and female.’

Louise Barry, Partner and Head of Risk & Quality at Grant Thornton Ireland said, ‘Over the past two years we have seen the playing field narrow between male and female colleagues thanks to the hybrid working model that was embraced by men and women across all industries and sectors.

‘But much remains to be done in this space and the figures in the Grant Thornton Women in Business report reflect the challenges that remain as businesses strive, and rightly so, towards gender balance in the workplace.’

The Women in Business report revealed two-fifths (42%) of women in senior management roles in Ireland are in human resources director roles; some 35% are in chief finance officer (CFO) roles; and, some 23% are in CEO or managing director roles.’

For an international perspective on the Report’s findings you can read our recently published article ‘Opening the door to diverse talent’ here>>