Welcome to the Women in Finance Virtual Summit – Ireland edition.

In a sector disrupted by COVID-19, new challenges and new technologies, long-established Financial Services (FS) companies are having to reinvent themselves to remain competitive and relevant. The digital transformation of the sector is redefining the way organisations engage with their customers, staff, regulators and many other stakeholder groups.

If you want to compete in the FS industry beyond 2020, it is critical to have the right people, technology and a diverse mindset in order to drive transformation and capitalise on growth potential (PwC, 2019). Some of the areas of growth lie within - supporting and learning from FinTech’s as they will drive new business models; embracing digital as it becomes mainstream and supporting and investing in socially responsible businesses.

Last year, some improvements were seen in the gender balance of applications in certain sectors, notably in insurance and credit unions. However, the pace of change remains disappointing. The issue is even more acute in those roles that are responsible for driving revenue (CEOs and Heads of Business) of which 85% are held by men. (Central Bank of Ireland, 2020).

There is plenty of diversity and inclusion talk at senior levels in corporate Ireland these days. However, the “glass ceiling” still exists in the Irish workplace, according to Network Ireland (The Irish Times, 2019). There is no more time for lip service; the time has now come to walk that talk.

Gender equality is not just a women’s issue. It’s an ‘everybody’ issue, but men feel they are not yet considered to be part of that debate and they want to be (Catherine Day, 2020). In uplifting comments shared, “men were delighted to be included and to be seen not just as the problem but part of the solution.” It is imperative that we tackle this problem together and that we do not create the same silos we have criticised to date.

Of course, diversity goes beyond gender, age and nationality. Different personality types, educational backgrounds, ethnicities, and diversity of thought can mitigate the risk of groupthink, improve decision-making, increase the effectiveness of internal challenge and enhance the culture within firms (Gabriel Makhlouf, 2020). We are at a crucial point, ‘afforded’ to us by the pandemic, and we must revise our products, businesses and the industry as a whole.

The virtual Women in Finance Summit will bring together delegates from across Ireland to educate industry leaders on how we can overcome the economic strains, be innovative, enhance our teams and move the dial on diversity in FSs roles. With topics on business and strategy; company culture and policies; leadership; and diversity initiatives, we will share ways in which the finance world can and will shift in the near future.

Join us on Thursday, 19th November for actionable recommendations, the opportunity to get inspired, and to network with your peers.