Growing gender inclusivity in Irish financial services

The first roundtable discussed gender trends and sourcing talent in Irish financial services

Following the UK’s exit from the European Union, can Irish financial services become a gender-diversity and inclusion leader in the region? Yes, but it has work to do, said speakers at a recent roundtable event.

Part of the Women in Finance Ireland series, the first of the three roundtable sessions focused on gender inequity in the financial services workforce and Ireland as a future industry hub.

Gender diversity and inclusion in Irish financial services

Host Peter Oakes, Founder at Fintech Ireland, said the Central Bank of Ireland has set sector diversity as a priority, as lack of diversity in senior management and at board level “is a leading indicator of heightened governance risks as diversity is so interconnected with risks, resilience, and financial performance.”

He referred to its findings that “back in 2012 only 16% of applications for senior roles at financial institutions were by women.” He said in 2020, this rose to 26%.

Elaine Deehan, Ireland Country Manager at Starling International, said if you look at many boards and senior management teams, “there’s a lot of sameness, and that’s not good.” She also said women, like other underrepresented groups, can contribute different ideas, which prevents groupthink.

Deehan says women’s life journeys need to be considered to promote inclusion. She refers to women having children and taking time out, which affects the diversity of the talent pipeline as some don’t return.

She says looking at other sectors with high female representation could help, such as teaching and nursing, and seeing what’s attracting women to roles and applying it back into financial services.

Gina Clarke, Editor In Chief at The Fintech Times, said “good mentorship” is key to elevating women in the sector but is also crucial to help “those further down the ladder.”

She also said firms should work to “normalise women’s caregiving responsibilities,” so they are no longer stigmatised for leaving work early to pick up a child from school, for example.

Ireland as an attractive place for talent

Deehan thinks Ireland is well-positioned to be one of Europe’s great financial services hubs, as post-Brexit, it is the only primarily English-speaking country in the region.

She also says remote operations have helped financial services firms broaden their search and recruit talent from all over Ireland, not just in urban centres like Dublin.

She says this, and the rise of technical colleges in Ireland has levelled the playing field for talent and created more opportunities for job seekers from different backgrounds.

Hesus Inoma, Director – Financial Services Advisory at Grant Thornton Ireland, said Ireland’s “meritocratic” work culture is a “key differentiator” in making the country an attractive place for international talent. “You really see the accelerated growth if you’re talented,” he says.

To view the roundtable in full, please click here.

In this article, you learned that:

  • The Central Bank of Ireland sees lack of diversity in financial services, especially in senior management and at board level, as a leading indicator of heightened governance risks.
  • In 2012 only 16% of applications for senior roles at financial institutions were for women. This grew to 26% in 2020.

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