Minister of State at the Department of Finance for Financial Services, Insurance and Credit Unions Dr Jennifer Carroll MacNeill has urged firms in the financial services industry to demonstrate their commitment to delivering gender balance by signing up to Ireland’s Women in Finance Charter.
Minister Carroll MacNeill highlighted the importance of the Charter as the flagship program in Ireland, led by industry with the support of Government, to increase the participation by women at all levels in financial services firms. Both of the previous female former Ministers of State Avril Doyle and Eithne Fitzgerald who served in office in the 1980s and the 1990s, joined the event at the Department of Finance and supported the call to sign up to the Charter.
Minister Carroll MacNeill said, “I welcome the effort made by financial services firms to celebrate the role of women in their industry by embracing the global phenomenon that is International Women’s Day. But having an event is not a step towards delivering change and risks being inauthentic if the women working in financial services cannot see a path to equality at all levels of financial services organisations.”
“Having an International Women’s Day event might feel necessary, but is it sufficient? Financial firms, and the legal and accounting professional services providers that support them, who want to seriously demonstrate their commitment to achieving greater gender diversity can do so by signing up to Ireland’s Women in Finance Charter.”
The Charter, which launched in 2022, commits organisations that sign up to improving the number of women in management and board level positions. The senior management teams of signatory firms will be accountable for progressing the yearly targets set against data which will be collected and reported on by the independent Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
Minister Carroll MacNeill noted, “as only the third women to hold the office of Minister of State in the Department of Finance, I want to use my visibility in the financial services community to accelerate action in this area. Ultimately, balance at the senior levels in firms will be delivered by the results of the actions they take, and signing up to the Charter is an important step in that direction. We should not lose sight of the benefits that come from greater gender balance with better decision making and better outcomes for the firms and society as a whole.”
Former Minister of State at the Department of Finance, Avril Doyle said, “a lot has changed since my time as a Minister of State, most notably the increased number of women working in financial services firms, but they are not fully represented at senior management and in the board room. I fully support what Minister Carrol MacNeill is doing to encourage more firms to sign ‘Ireland’s Women in Finance Charter’ as a practical action to develop the untapped potential of women in the industry.”
Former Minister of State at the Department of Finance, Eithne Fitzgerald said, “there is a strong consensus we need to address the obstacles that prevent more women advancing to senior leadership positions. Signing up to Ireland’s Women in Finance Charter is a positive first step, which should lead to tangible actions in the firms concerned. I welcome the call from Minister Carroll MacNeill for those firms who have yet to do so to commit to joining this important industry initiative.”
The first annual report is due in the first half of this year and over 50 firms, representing 44 thousand employees have already signed up to the Charter, and the Steering Group, made up of public officials and industry professionals.
Speaking about the benefits of signing up to the Charter, the chair of the Steering Group Financial Services Ireland Director Patricia Callan said, “we have been pleased with the feedback we have received from firms that have already signed the Charter where staff have responded well to the commitment to develop the talent pipeline that women represent in their organisations.”
Firms that wish to sign up to the Charter can contact one for the four trade associations (Banking & Payments Federation (BPFI), Financial Services Ireland (FSI), Irish Funds and Insurance Ireland) who are the main point of contact for the initiative. More details on the Charter, including contact details, can be found at www.betterbalance.ie/partners/