Tackling the Gender Pay Gap

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In 2021, the Irish Government introduced the Gender Pay Gap Information Act, requiring employers to report on the pay differences between female and male employees. This was the culmination of five years of lobbying and campaigning activity by WorkEqual.

Alice devised the WorkEqual campaign for our client, Dress for Success Dublin (a charity that supported women to enter / re-enter the workforce), in 2016. Through their work, Dress for Success Dublin had become acutely aware that, even after women were supported to join the workforce, they often faced significant barriers to progressing their career because of gender inequalities. Alice identified an opportunity for Dress for Success Dublin to elevate their work and share this insight on a much bigger stage – through the WorkEqual campaign.

The campaign aims to highlight and address gender inequalities in Irish workplaces. It is centred around a month of activities each November, including Equal Pay Day – the date on which women in Ireland effectively stop earning, relative to men, because of the gender pay gap.

Over the years 2016 to 2018, we organised a range of awareness-raising and political engagement activities for WorkEqual. A WorkEqual Oireachtas All-Party Group was established in 2018 and the inaugural WorkEqual conference took place in Dublin in November 2019.

Because of our global outlook, Alice was able to leverage the global movement for gender equality to build pressure for change here in Ireland. During 2018 and 2019, for example, we developed a strong (and still ongoing) relationship with the Icelandic Women’s Rights Association, pioneers of the ‘Women’s Strike’ and the lead women’s rights organisation in the most gender-equal country in the world.

Building the Pressure for Change

In 2020, due to Covid-19 restrictions, the WorkEqual campaign had to move all activities online. We used this as an opportunity to activate our network of global experts for the benefit of the campaign, holding a series of weekly online panel discussions throughout the month of November, featuring 28 expert speakers for the panels – from nine different countries. These included: Linda Scott, an award-winning author and globally-acknowledged expert on gender equality economics; Ged Kearney, a member of the Australian Parliament; Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation; Andrew Barnes, Founder of Four Day Week Global; Dr. Orlaigh Quinn, Secretary General of the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation; and Sonja Yr Thorbergsdottir, Chair of the Icelandic Federation of State and Municipal Employees.

We also produced a special Equal Pay Day video, featuring over 20 Oireachtas members and the Lord Mayor of Dublin pledging their support for WorkEqual. This video was subsequently used by the politicians featured and by wider societal groups to build support for the changes needed to effectively tackle gender inequalities.

We adopted a similar approach for the 2021 campaign, organising a flagship online event – which was addressed by Roderic O’Gorman TD, Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth – as well as releasing market research findings on public attitudes to gender equality. The market research – and the involvement of Minister O’Gorman in the flagship campaign event – enabled us to demonstrate to key political decision-makers the public support that exists for the Government to tackle gender inequalities.

Legislative Result

A major victory for the WorkEqual campaign occurred in 2021, when the Government introduced long-awaited legislation on gender pay gap reporting. Also in 2021, in recognition of the impact that the campaign has had on its work overall and its public profile, Dress for Success Dublin took the decision to rebrand the organisation as a whole to WorkEqual.


Key results from our work with WorkEqual include the following:

  • Growing public understanding of the gender pay gap: the market research we undertook in 2021 showed 74% of people believe closing the gender pay gap should be a priority for government and employers, while 70% believe concerns about the gender pay gap represent awareness of a real issue.
  • Securing SOLAS and Permanent TSB as headline sponsors for WorkEqual. This provided essential funding to deliver the WorkEqual campaign, as well as ensuring it had strong champions from both the public and private sectors.
  • Achieving a total combined reach for all communications outputs from 2018 to 2021 of 63.3 million.
  • 1,000 attendees at WorkEqual events between 2016 and 2021, with attendees rating the events, on average, 9.30/10.
  • Improvement in ‘markers’ of gender equality in Ireland: our gender pay gap decreased from 14.4% in 2017 to 8.3% in 2020. Our overall score on EIGE’s Gender Equality Index (a tool that measures the progress of gender equality in the EU, rating Member States out of 100), meanwhile, has risen from 67.7 in 2015 to 73.1 in 2021.
  • Growing participation in the WorkEqual Oireachtas All-Party Group year-on-year. There is now a regular cohort of approximately 10 parliamentarians involved in the group, which is co-chaired by Ivana Bacik TD and Senators Lorraine Clifford-Lee and Emer Currie. Meanwhile, 47 Oireachtas members engaged with the 2020 and 2021 campaigns alone, and WorkEqual was raised 10 times in parliamentary debates during November 2020.
  • The Equal Pay Day video we produced for the campaign in 2020 gained over 7,000 views on WorkEqual’s owned channels; and the Citizens’ Assembly on Gender Equality subsequently used the video to inform all Assembly members about the gender pay gap.

WorkEqual’s 2020 campaign was shortlisted in the prestigious 2021 Purpose Awards for the EMEA region. The campaign has also been recognised on several occasions at the annual PR Awards for Excellence, run by the PRCA and the PRII: in 2019, WorkEqual was highly commended in the ‘Best Issues-Led Campaign’ category; in 2020, we won the ‘Best PR Event’ award for our work on the inaugural WorkEqual conference; and, in 2022, we were highly commended in the ‘Best Long-Term Campaign’ category.

WorkEqual has worked with Alice on an ongoing basis since 2015. During this time, they have helped us in working towards our key aims of supporting women to (re)enter the workforce and achieve economic independence, as well as campaigning for full gender equality in the workplace. Alice’s work over the past number of years has included the development of the award-winning WorkEqual campaign, which involves media relations, event management and extensive stakeholder engagement across various sectors, including the political, policymaking, business and civil society sectors. The work of Alice has also played a central role in the development of a strategic partnership with the Icelandic Women’s Rights Association and the establishment of a WorkEqual Oireachtas All-Party Group… The team at Alice have been amazing to deal with, and the outputs and impacts speak for themselves. For me, the joy is in dealing with a highly intelligent and passionate organisation with great values and leadership.
Sonya Lennon
Sonya Lennon
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