Women in the workplace, the gender pay gap and how returning from maternity leave can be improved, were some of the topics raised at a panel discussion to support the annual Dress for Success International Women’s Day campaign with eir and The Irish Times Women’s Podcast.

Dress for Success Dublin supports women by providing the clothing, skills and networking opportunities necessary to succeed in job interviews and in the workplace. During March, workplaces across Ireland held coffee mornings, book sales, fashion makeovers, and clothing collections as part of the annual Dress for Success International Women’s Day campaign. Events wrapped up this week (after a delay thanks to Storm Emma!) with a live panel discussion hosted by lead sponsor eir which explored issues affecting women in the workplace. It was recorded for The Irish Times Women’s Podcast and is now live online.

Contributors to the session included Carolan Lennon – on her third day as CEO of eir (first female CEO in the company’s history), Sonya Lennon and Gillian Harford from AIB and was it chaired by Kathy Sheridan from The Irish Times.

Some fascinating insights on the gender pay gap and what it means to be a working woman in Ireland in 2018 were shared by the panel:

  • When it comes to the gender gap disclosures, the figures are interesting but the more interesting issue is “what are we going to do about it?” A lot of the time, employees are less interested about what the current statistics are and more about the policies that are being implemented to address them. A company can get great kudos for getting ahead of the march and for having a strategy in place to address this.
  • Being visible and asking for what women want, or rather, not feeling able to was something the panellists saw as an issue facing women and one that must be overcome. Gillian made the point that we teach our boys to be brave and we teach our girls to be good but women need to feel it’s okay to be brave sometimes too. Women shouldn’t be afraid to say (out loud!) what they want.
  • Gender quotas, targets and deep analysis of the data received support across the panel. It is not enough to look at the numbers at face value. Companies must assess gender representation in key decision-making areas of their management and company structure. On this topic, Gillian calls on us to get proactive. She said that the generations coming behind us “demand it, expect it, and won’t settle for less!”

Listen to the full podcast here.

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