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‘Disappointing’ drop in women in senior posts
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08 Mar 2024 / business Print

‘Disappointing’ drop in women in senior posts

Grant Thornton has described as ‘disappointing’ a drop in the number of women in senior management roles in Ireland over the past year.

The firm’s annual Women in Business Report found that just 36% of women held senior management roles in Irish businesses in 2024.

This represents a 10% drop from the previous year, when women held 40% of senior roles.

Grant Thornton says that, while the figures are disappointing, they demonstrate significant progress in the drive towards gender equality in the past decade, more than doubling from the 16% recorded in its 2014 report.

It adds that, while Ireland may be performing better than the 2024 global average of 33.5%, the figures highlight that progress has been slow. The firm estimates that, at the current rate, global parity will not be achieved until 2053.

Drop ‘may not be a blip’

Sinead Donovan (chair, Grant Thornton Ireland) expressed concern that the 2024 drop “may not just be a blip in the system”.

“Now, more than ever, is when C-suite leaders need to review their policies and processes to ensure we see a return to achieving more women being appointed to senior management roles,” she stated.

“We are now seeing businesses respond with a sense of urgency to ESG compliance and reporting – and rightly so. Diversity is key to this, and we need to see this being mirrored in boardrooms to ensure leadership gender parity,” she concluded.

‘Pathways to parity’

Coinciding with International Women’s Day, Grant Thornton's report also  focuses on ways for businesses to make progress on gender equality.

Entitled ‘Pathways to Parity: 20 Years of Women in Business Insights’, it finds that the percentage of women in senior roles rises when a senior executive, such as a CEO, leads and is responsible for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).

The report also finds better outcomes when businesses have a DEI strategy in place, independent of a broader ESG strategy.

The final pathway to parity, the report states, is the ability to work flexibly. It describes a “dramatic shift back” to office-based working among global mid-market firms in the past 12 months.

“Businesses in which workers are primarily office-based are the only ones where the percentage of women in senior management roles drops below the global benchmark,” Grant Thornton says.

Gazette Desk
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