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Can skills-based hiring increase women’s representation in Ieadership jobs?

30 Jun 2023

Women make up 46pc of entry-level workers but only a quarter of C-suite roles across all sectors in Ireland. The manufacturing sector currently employs the least women.

According to the latest Labour Market Pulse report by IDA Ireland, LinkedIn and Microsoft Ireland, companies should focus on skills-based hiring (rather than title-based) to open up roles to a more diverse range of candidates.

The report looked at how women’s participation in the Irish workforce, a timely theme given the relatively recent releases by employers of their gender pay gap reports. Many of these reports showed that women are underrepresented in tech leadership roles. They are also less likely to hold highly-paid tech roles.

The Labour Market Pulse report picks up on this issue of representation. It found that women’s representation in the manufacturing sector is the lowest, followed by the technology, information and media grouping. It was highest in hospitals and healthcare. However, there was still a disparity between the amount of entry-level women workers and those in leadership roles in that sector.

Across all sectors, from professional services – where representation was the third lowest – to consumer services, women were better represented at entry-level than at leadership level. The data that informed the report was taken from LinkedIn Ireland. It revealed that across all sectors women represent 43.3pc of the workforce but less than a third (31.1pc) of senior leaders. Women make up 46pc of entry-level workers but a quarter of C-suite roles across all sectors.

Commenting on what she termed the “drop to the top”, Kate O’Sullivan, senior director of public policy and economic graph at LinkedIn, said, “The ‘drop to the top’ persists as a feature of female representation in leadership roles globally and as Ireland continues to face a tight labour market, skills-based hiring can help address this. LinkedIn believes this approach is key for us to remove the barriers women face as our research shows that women were almost twice as likely to apply for a job when shown how their skills match those required.”

IDA Ireland CEO Michael Lohan said his organisation is also “an advocate of the skills-first hiring approach as it brings forward the most talented applicants for roles while increasing gender equality in the workplace.’’

LinkedIn estimates that a skills-first hiring approach would increase the overall talent pool more than six-fold.

James O’Connor, Microsoft Ireland site lead, said more can be done for women by focusing on education. “By giving students the opportunity to engage in STEM from an early age and equipping them with the skills to succeed in a digital world, we can help unlock new career opportunities and create a more inclusive workforce in Ireland where everyone has an equal opportunity to participate and succeed.”

The report did point out that women’s participation in the workforce continues to increase. It stands at 56pc according to the 2022 Census. And Ireland is ranked eighth by the World Economic Forum for gender pay gap progress.

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Blathnaid O’Dea
By Blathnaid O’Dea

Blathnaid O’Dea joined Silicon Republic in 2021 as Careers reporter, coming from a background in the Humanities. She likes people, pranking, pictures of puffins – and apparently alliteration.

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