March 08, 2016

Carol Andrews: Data is essential to driving change in number of women at the top table

Carol Andrews

Carol Andrews


Over the last ten years International Women’s Day in Ireland has grown significantly in importance, aided by the central role our business community has played in cultivating its prominence. This is motivated in part by a commitment to gender balance within organisations, but increasingly because the evidence shows clearly that a diverse work place is better for business.

A recent international study by the Peterson Institute for International Economics of nearly 22,000 publicly traded companies in 91 countries, found a clear correlation between the number of women in executive positions and a company’s profitability.

In order to get an Irish perspective, BNY Mellon recently partnered with Dublin City University and the 30% Club in Ireland to publish, for the first time, a study entitled ‘Women in Management,’ which examined the landscape of leadership in Irish business. The results illustrated the disparity of representation of men and women at managerial level in Ireland in 2016.

It found that women occupy a disproportionately low proportion of managerial roles across organisation types, sectors and size in the country. Particularly poor gender balance was found in the commercial state/semi-state sector, manufacturing and in mid-sized organisations.

Though somewhat depressing, we should not view these figures as totally disheartening. The report found that where companies were headed by a female CEO there were more women in leadership positions and cites the ‘role modelling effect’ as being a likely catalyst for this phenomenon. Having the data and research on this issue to educate and inform both men and women about diversity is absolutely vital.

In 2010, the Davies Review in the UK set out to gather evidence on the low representation of women on FTSE Boards. The numbers were stark – women held just 12.5% of board positions. However, thanks to the good work of our 30% Club colleagues, among others, as well as a continuous focus on moving the dial in the right direction, by October last year the figure stood at 26.1%.

We’re less advanced in our journey in Ireland. Our own Women in Management study will be published on an annual basis to track our progress. I believe that with its insights and strong business case in favour of diversity, women, Irish business and Ireland Inc will thrive.

To join the conversation on International Women’s Day, you can follow the hashtag #IWD2016 on Twitter.

To learn more about BNY Mellon’s diversity and inclusion commitments, click here.