Belfast Telegraph

Gender imbalance in Republic's financial sector is 'staggering'

By Dearbhail McDonald, Colm Kelpie and Adrian Weckler

A landmark study of women working in financial services in the Republic has revealed a "staggering" gap between women and men occupying senior executive roles in the sector, prompting calls for the introduction of gender targets.

The study, commissioned by the 30% Club, has revealed that 87% of chief executive positions are held by men, despite a 50/50 split of men and women working in financial services here.

One level down from CEO, men hold 72% of leadership roles. It is only four levels down from CEO that women outnumber men, with a 54% female to 46% male split.

In a finding that poses significant challenges to attitudes towards women working in financial services, one in five men said that they believed "personal choice" is the biggest barrier to female career progression.

The 30% Club study of women in financial services, published today, comes as separate research by Belfast Telegraph sister publication the Irish Independent found that just 3% of venture capital in the Republic goes to female-founded companies.

Of €781m placed in 153 tech and biotech companies in the Republic last year, just €24m went to a firm with a woman at or near the helm.

Of 132 VC-funded Irish tech firms founded by men, all have a male CEO. By comparison, 12 of the 21 VC-funded Irish tech firms with a female co-founded have a woman as CEO.

Yesterday the National Women's Council of Ireland called for laws to be introduced that oblige companies to publish pay information which is broken down by gender.

It also called for the introduction of quotas to increase the representation of women on boards of private companies.

FBD chief executive Fiona Muldoon - one of only three female CEOs of an Irish Stock Exchange-listed company - described the executive divide in the financial sector in the Republic as "staggering".

"We urgently need to pick up the pace of change," writes Ms Muldoon in Business Week, published with the Irish Independent. She said that gender balance needs to be addressed more widely at executive level and all layers of management.

The survey, conducted on behalf of the 30% Club by Coyne Research, reveals that people with children working in the sector believe that flexibility over start and working times, as well as companies facilitating remote working, were the top policies companies should have in place.

But more than four out of 10 are afraid that if they avail of flexible working arrangements, it will harm their career.

The study found that only 3% of men availed of a reduced schedule, where available, compared to 31% of women.

The 30% Club survey, sponsored by AIB, polled 23 blue chip companies in the Republic representing more than 42,000 employees across banking, fund services and insurance.

In addition, 1,671 individuals took part.

Carol Andrews, managing director of investment bank BNY Mellon, Ireland country lead for the 30% Club, said there are clear markers in the report as to how the gender deficit at senior levels in the financial services sector can be addressed.

Belfast Telegraph