Ireland’s Women in Finance Charter records increase in female representation across financial services sector

  • Voluntary Charter seeks to improve female representation in financial services firms
  • The Charter, launched 2 years ago, now has 91 signatories, representing over 65,000 employees
  • Female representation across senior management positions continues to improve

The proportion of women across senior levels at financial services firms has increased year-on-year in Ireland’s Women in Finance Charter signatory firms, according to updated statistics from the initiative published today.

The findings are contained in the second annual report on Ireland’s Women in Finance charter. The report has been compiled by the ESRI in collaboration with financial services industry representative bodies. The Charter is an industry initiative supported by government under the Ireland for Finance Strategy that seeks to improve female representation in financial services firms operating in Ireland.

Signatories to the Charter commit to setting targets for increased female representation. There are now 91* signatory firms to the Charter, which account for over 65,000 employees - representing half of all employees in the financial services sector. 

The annual report outlines the progress that signatories have made towards increased gender balance. Among the original signatories, female representation on boards increased to 39pc at the beginning of this year, up from 33pc at the same time in 2022. On executive committees, the figure increased to 37pc, up from 33pc in 2022. 25pc of CEOs among these original firms are female, an increase of four percentage points since 2022.

Looking at the Charter signatories as a whole, female representation has grown at senior management level (37pc to 41pc), Executive Committee level (30pc to 34pc), CEO (22pc to 26pc), and Board level (35pc to 39pc). Encouragingly, the increase in female  representation is not only confined to the highest echelons of a firm. For example, those  firms who have signed up to the Charter in 2023 have recorded improvements at junior management level, with representation increasing from 43pc at the start of 2023 to 52pc at the start of 2024.

The Minister of State for Finance with responsibility for Financial Services, Credit Unions and Insurance, Neale Richmond TD, said: “I welcome the findings of the annual report, which show female representation in financial services is increasing. Launched in April 2022 as part of the Ireland for Finance strategy, the Women in Finance Charter model serves as an clear exemplar to other industries in their efforts to increase female representation. I would encourage firms who have not yet signed up to the Charter to do so to continue to build on this positive progress.”

Fiona Gallagher, CEO of Wells Fargo Bank International and Chair of the Women in Finance Charter steering group, said: “The statistics included in this latest report on the Women in Finance Charter show that tangible progress is being made in making the financial services industry more diverse. It is important that the industry, with continued government involvement, builds on this progress and continues to invest in the Charter to reap the benefits.

“Increased participation of women at all levels within the industry makes good business sense and the work done by the signatory firms thus far has to be commended. The data highlights an increase in participation across many levels in the sector, and this, we hope, will pay dividends in future years as females in the junior and middle levels progress to senior management and beyond with less barriers than before.”

Dr Helen Russell, Research Professor at the ESRI and one of the report’s authors, said: “Setting targets and publicly communicating progress is an effective means of influencing change within organisations. The targets set by signatory firms are ambitious and have the potential to influence the opportunities facing women in the financial services sector in Ireland. The report provides examples of what is working within firms to promote greater gender equality, which may be useful for organisations in the wider economy facing the same issues.”