Ireland’s Women in Finance Charter – The First Year

21st June 2023

Posted In: Be In The Frame

The proportion of women in senior roles at financial services firms increased in 2022, according to a new report.

The findings are contained in the first annual report on the Women in Finance charter, which has been compiled by the ESRI. The Charter is an initiative that seeks to improve female representation in financial services firms operating in Ireland.

Signatories to the Charter commit to setting targets for increased female representation. 56 companies that span a wide range of financial services, and employ almost 45,000 people (representing 2 in every 5 employees in the sector), signed up in 2022.

The annual report outlines the progress that signatories have made towards increased gender balance in 2022.

Among the signatories, female representation on boards increased to 37%, up from 32% the prior year. On executive committees, the figure increased to 35%, up from 32% the prior year.

Patricia Callan, Director of Financial Services Ireland and Chair of the Women in Finance Charter steering group, said: “The launch of this Annual Report is an important milestone for the Women in Finance charter and highlights the significant progress that has been made since it was established. We have been heartened by the level of support the Charter has received from financial services firms operating in Ireland.

“Increasing female representation makes good business sense. It will provide a more diverse set of perspectives, ensure firms are more reflective of the society in which they operate, and expand the talent pool by encouraging more female entrants into a sector which traditionally has been male-dominated.

We want to continue to increase the number of signatories to the charter, and would encourage firms who have not yet signed up to do so.”

Dr Helen Russell, research professor at the ESRI and one of the report’s authors, said: International research shows that setting transparent targets for change and monitoring progress is an effective strategy for increasing equality within organisations.

Greater gender equality in management roles is important from a business and social justice perspective in an industry where almost half of employees are female.”

Respondents were asked to choose the three actions they had found most effective for increasing gender balance. “Improved flexible working options” was the most commonly identified, chosen by 52% of respondents. “Examining gender balance in succession planning” was chosen by 49%, while 46% chose “identifying female leaders”.

The most commonly identified barrier to improving gender balance was firms having a low number of female applicants. Almost two-thirds (63%) identified this as among the main barriers. Low turnover in senior management was identified among the main barriers by 56%.

In interviews, signatories highlighted the importance of senior management ownership of equality objectives, and provided examples of effective initiatives including mentoring programmes and wider information gathering and employee consultation.

Firms reported they were motivated to sign the Charter because of the benefits of public accountability and being part of a wider movement for promoting change. Positive employee perceptions, and involvement in similar initiatives in other countries, were among the other reasons that prompted sign-ups.

You can download the Annual Report here>>