Three women and one man standing in a room where one of the women is seated on a sofa holding a sign that says Elevate.
Sinead Patton, chief financial and commercial officer, Veolia Ireland; Paulina Wysocka, audit manager, Retail Ireland Audit Team, Bank of Ireland; Chedu Peba, diversity and inclusion manager, Sky Ireland; and Kevin Thompson, CEO, RSA Insurance Ireland and Image: Jason Clarke

More women in leadership roles at companies that measure D&I, says report

10 May 2022

Irish employers that signed Business in the Community’s diversity and inclusion pledge have greater representation of women in leadership roles than the national average.

The representation of women at senior and executive roles is higher than the national average among companies that have committed to improving diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

That’s according to a report by national non-profit network Business in the Community Ireland (BITCI).

Last May, almost 50 companies signed the Elevate pledge by BITCI, which called for employers to commit to greater diversity and inclusion. It included commitments to measures such as gender pay gap analyses and disability confidence training.

The companies also agreed to measure their inclusivity and diversity in the workplace across gender, age, disability, sexual orientation and ethnicity.

A year on, BITCI has released its first Elevate report detailing the progress the pledge’s signatory companies have made regarding diversity and inclusion.

The report was formed by a study of 50 businesses in Ireland that employ almost 120,000 staff. Among these companies, there is 38pc female representation in senior executive roles, compared with a national average of 30pc.

Data disclosure in the areas of gender and age were good, according to the report’s authors, however other areas such as ethnicity and disability were at a less advanced stage. The authors acknowledged that gender diversity is a common starting point for D&I policies.

There are 18 companies where the percentage of women at senior management level is at least five percentage points ahead of those at the next executive or C-suite level, indicating the positive impact of leadership programmes for women.

The report also found that women fill 30pc of top-earning posts at these companies, with salaries of €120,000 and upwards. However, women are also disproportionately overrepresented in the lowest salary bands of less than €26,000.

“While the study is representative of just 50 companies involving 120,000 employees, it points to good news in the increasing representation of women at senior management level,” Tomás Sercovich, CEO of BITCI.

“This is real change and one that we hope will be replicated in the other areas which the Elevate report will capture in succeeding years.”

While progress is being seen in gender diversity, the report recommended that age-related policies be put in place to make workplaces more suitable for Ireland’s ageing workforce. Just 1pc of the Elevate pledge workforce of 120,000 were aged 65 or over, with 84pc aged between 26 and 65.

“Estimates from the CSO indicate there will be about 1.5m people aged over 65 in Ireland by 2051. Also, with the qualifying age for the old age pension likely to be pushed out, people are going to be in the workplace longer,” the report said.

“Having an understanding of the age profile of the workforce and developing strategies to mitigate risks is going to become increasingly important for employers.”

BITCI is also adding to its portfolio of employment programmes supporting marginalised people in employment by launching a new Traveller programme, funded by The Community Foundation for Ireland.

The Elevate report was compiled by BITCI with support from Deloitte Ireland, one of the companies that signed the pledge. Other signatories include Accenture, BT Ireland, Cork Chamber, EirGrid, IBM Ireland, Janssen, Permanent TSB, PwC and Sodexo.

Harry Goddard, CEO of Deloitte Ireland and social inclusion sub-group co-chair, said that world events have forced the business community to think more deeply about what it values as a society.

“We’re proud to be part of the first Elevate Pledge report, making a commitment to clear and measurable targets to improve inclusion, holding ourselves accountable and continuing to make an impact where it matters the most,” he added.

Women’s business group Network Ireland has welcomed the higher levels of female participation at senior and executive levels in some of Ireland’s largest companies.

Responding to the report from BITCI today, president of Network Ireland, Noreen McKenzie, said, “It’s encouraging to see employers taking diversity and inclusion seriously, however, further progress is needed. It is more than just tackling the gender pay gap; it is a good starting point, but we also need to focus on areas such as ethnicity and disability.”

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Blathnaid O’Dea
By Blathnaid O’Dea

Blathnaid O’Dea worked as a Careers reporter until 2024, coming from a background in the Humanities. She likes people, pranking, pictures of puffins – and apparently alliteration.

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