Supporting diverse talent in Ireland’s financial sector

The second roundtable discussed recruiting, retaining and developing diverse talent

The Irish Government has made workforce diversity an imperative in developing the economy into an international financial services sector by 2025.

However, without diversifying the talent pipeline and implementing policies that help diverse talent stay, Ireland’s dreams of a diverse as well as innovative financial services sector will remain just that.

The second roundtable event in the Women in Finance Ireland series explored how firms can build their diverse, talented, and sustainable talent pipelines of the future today.

Host Fionnán O’Sullivan, Managing Partner, Financial Services at Barden, asked the panel what is needed to boost the talent pipeline to meet the industry’s current and future needs.

Gillian Hardford, Country Executive at 30% Club Ireland, a campaign to achieve gender balance across all levels of business, said firms need to work harder to attract job candidates and students into the industry in the first place. She said the industry had to change its image to attract more diverse candidates and make it clear that it’s less ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ and is actually a place with “lots of tech-based opportunities” and one which invests in career building and development and doesn’t just buy talent in.

Niall O’Leary, Head of Indexation, Fixed Income & Credit Solutions at Irish Life Investment Managers said attracting top talent is key. This, he says, includes offering better packages that go beyond good pay and include learning and development opportunities, as well as job flexibility for young talent to take “study leave” and access support when taking further qualifications.

On the topic of recruiting talent from different backgrounds, Jeanne McDonagh, CEO at Open Doors Initiative that creates employment prospects for marginalised people, said because the talent pool is shrinking, financial services firms are recruiting from the same pool of people.

She added that potential talent including those with disabilities and the traveller community, which have 36.5% and 20% employment rates respectively, should be tapped into.

She said when the barriers to entry are removed for these groups they can “shine” as professionals as long as there is career development support and not tokenism based on filling quotas, as the business benefits of diversity have been proven, including more innovative and creative teams.

Deborah Somorin, Manager on EY’s People Advisory Services team and Founder of social enterprise Empower the Family said progressing diverse talent into senior positions in financial services is crucial so that “decisions at the top are reflective of the society that they’re trying to serve and the clients they’re trying to serve.”

She said surveying ethnicity pay gap data in Irish financial services organisations would be a good step, and firms should follow the example of the higher education industry in Ireland by doing this.

To watch the roundtable in full, please click here.

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