Posted on Wednesday 29 August 2018 by Ulster Business

Roseann

Women in Business chief executive Roseann Kelly says more must be done to ensure greater female representation in boardrooms across NI.

With a growing perception that women are smashing the glass ceiling and with a more intensified commitment across business on diversity, it is disheartening to see only two female chief executives listed among the Ulster Business Top 100 Companies here in Northern Ireland this year.

This represents a big drop when compared to the Top 100 companies three years ago, when we saw the then chief executive of Moy Park, Janet McCollum, recipient of the Women in Business Outstanding Business Woman of the Year Award, also featured within this list.

Research by McKinsey over the past 10 years has also shown that although process has occurred globally, it is at a rate which is far too slow. In 2007, they found that women held 11% of seats on the executive committees of Europe’s leading companies.

What is even more distressing is the fact that their research also suggests that many people are content with the status quo, with almost 50 of men believing that it is sufficient when just one in 10 senior leaders in their company is a woman and one-third of women agree.

And in a world and society where women seem to be actively encouraged to strive to reach their career goals, why is this so? The answer is simple. Although, often quick to vocalise support for gender equality in the workplace, employers often fail to make the decision to implement frameworks to support business women throughout their careers.

Women play an invaluable role as economic drivers which is vital in working towards building confidence in the Northern Ireland Economy ahead of Brexit and in the lack of a functioning Executive.

However, women not only offer a much-needed boost to the economy: a gender diverse workforce provides easier access to resources; multiple sources of information, wider industry knowledge and a range of perspectives on problem solving.

Northern Ireland cannot take its eye off the ball, we must continue to define ourselves as a progressive society with forward thinking leaders and to do this.

To support women here in Northern Ireland, Women in Business launched the Gender Diversity Charter Mark last year, giving local businesses the opportunity to commit to delivering diversity initiatives and ethical practises in their workplace.

The NI Gender Diversity Charter Mark enables organisations to identify and reflect on institutional barriers facing women that impact on their career progression.

I believe that this is an important step in achieving real gender equality in business here in Northern Ireland and I am delighted to celebrate some of these businesses’ successes this summer.

I would call on all businesses locally to really commit to diversity and not drop the ball - the job is far from done. We need to remain committed to gender equality and show true and meaningful leadership.

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