International Womens Day – Irish companies advancing female empowerment in the workplace

International Women’s Day is a day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. In recent years a number of organisations have been created or continued in Ireland in order to advance women in the workplace and break the glass ceilings that previously existed. It’s these companies, their participants and the support system around them that we celebrate. All information below is taken either from the companies website or the companies socitodayal media feeds:

An initiative of the Government of Ireland the ACORNS programme is designed to create and support more female entrepreneurs in rural communities. The six month programme provides new female entrepreneurs with female “lead entrepreneurs”) so that they can provide guidance and advice to the new business. So far more than 250 female entrepreneurs have taken part in the ACORNS initiative to date and with the challenges surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic, support for new business owners is more important than ever.

A student-led enterprise that came out of the Enactus Programme, Any Time of The Month was started by students in The University of Limerick when their research said “that 1 in 2 secondary school students and 1 in 3 third level students in Ireland experience period poverty”. Since then they have created a network of Any Time of The Month ambassadors, created a price structure for their corporate workplaces workplaces and used the profits of these workshops to give out period products to those in period poverty around Ireland. 

A registered social enterprise born out of the pandemic, according to its website “AwakenHub’s mission is to level up opportunity, access and connectivity for women founders throughout the Island of Ireland by removing barriers to investment, scale and success.” They have built a community of 1500 entrepreneurs in 18 months and hold regular monthly community events to which any woman founder, want to be founder or ally are welcome to attend (mostly online but also in-person when time allows). Founded by four Irish women from North and South, they also curate the online private AwakenClub made up of early stage women founders, company builders, investors and ‘big sisters’ offering informal advice and guidance.

According to their website “BPW Ireland is a vibrant membership-based organisation dedicated to the support, advocacy and development of professional and businesswomen based in Ireland. BPW Ireland members are women in business and the professions, who come together to learn from each other, support each other, advocate for women generally whilst learning from and enjoying the company of other fantastic females.”

Business In The Community is an organisation that works with large organisation to increase their Corporate Social Responsibilities in ways such as their Low Carbon Pledge that reduces their members carbon emissions. However, they also have job coaches and career guidance counselors available to reach underrepresented groups, and have programmes available to:

  • EPIC Programme helps migrants to Ireland 
  • Ready For Work This programme assist People with Disabilities 
  • Women@Work For Women getting back into the workplace 

Created by Dell Technologies, Accenture and Microsoft Ireland, CWIT stands for Connecting Women in Technology. It is a network of companies that span more that 20 multi nationals in Ireland in an attempt to create a community of women that all work in a sector that is predominately run by men and to attract more women into the STEM industry. Some of their programmes include:

  • Digital Futures – where women from these companies goes into secondary school to give workshops to girls who otherwise would not consider a career in STEM
  • Teen Turn – giving girls in underprivileged DEIS secondary schools mentors and a venue for them to excel in STEM subjects. They may also provide 2 week internships to pupils from these schools that excel in these programmes
  • Tech Starter – “The aim of Tech Starter is reduce the numbers of female dropouts from STEM degrees and increase the number of students who enter STEM/technology”
  • Teacher Internships – during summer holidays CWIT offers “teachers with first-hand experience of working in technology sector, dispel any misconception they may have about what type of people work in the sector and expose them to the sheer variety of roles that exist and career paths that people take”. 

The Irish arm of the global movement Dress For Success is a Not For Profit designed to give women from underprivileged backgrounds better chances at landing a job. The company was originally set up to give women access to clothes for interviews so that they can give themselves a better chance of getting the job. Now the company also job coaching and a network of companies that prospective women can avail of it they want to join or rejoin the workforce.

Flexible Recruitment agencies, Employmum and Employflex, were created by Karen O’Reilly, a professional accountant with over 20 years experience. Karen and her team are all about finding the perfect solutions for employers and employees – we match employers with flexible and remote roles to our high calibre candidates seeking flexibility. 

Their back up dream team of HR consultants, Coaches and Change Managers can help make your company a flexible place to work. They also offer training for employees and employers to navigate the world of remote work.

To date they have had a 93% success rate in placing candidates and are proud to lead the flexible work revolution in Ireland.

To date they have had a 93% success rate in placing candidates, 4019k, they currently have active flexible jobs seekers on their database and a 96% Candidate satisfaction rate

An initiative by GMIT for early stage female founded companies in the Connaught region. The 12 week programme is designed to give new founders the confidence to develop their business plan, critically assess their products, get access to the universities resources in terms of research and facilities and then give them the opportunities to pitch their businesses and get feedback from business experts.

Created by former Irish Hockey International, Dublin Gealic Footballer and Motorsport Data Engineer Nicci Daly, it was Nicci’s time in Motorsport that inspired her to create this business, targeting more teenage girls to have an interest in STEM. The entrepreneur has created Go Girls Karting, a Karting team made exclusively with female teens and with the help of a grant from Sport Ireland aims to put more than 1000 teens behind the wheel. They’ve created a team for international tournaments and given workshops to schools throughout the country.

According to their website “Going for Growth is designed to support women who are serious about growing their businesses and are the owner manager of a business which has been trading for at least two years. At Going for Growth, we believe that entrepreneurs learn best from each other. Accordingly, the initiative is based on interactive roundtable sessions that are facilitated, not by consultants, academics or professional trainers, but by successful entrepreneurs.”

By celebrating the diverse contributions of migrants and providing support to advance their careers, we can improve our ability to tap into the unexplored skills that help the global economy thrive. #GoingFar was created to address this, by offering a range of programmes, from mentoring to seminars and workshops.

According to their co-founder Niamh Tallon “The company’s mission is to empower women in sport from grass route to elite level and widen the coverage that goes with it.” The company has driven a huge increase in the coverage of women sport and they want to use this to levage great participation, funding and recognition to inspire the next generation to get more involved in sport, because according to research “94% of female executives in the workplace in Ireland were involved in sport from an early age”.

According to The Irish Farmers Journal “Homeless Period Ireland is a Non-governmental Organisation that aims to support those in Ireland with access issues to mentstuational health products”. They work with homeless charities in Ireland so that those that access their services have access to period products. In April 2021 Lidl became the first retailer in Ireland to offer free period products through their app, so that all those that need them can access them.

Internal Networks Within Companies

Many of Ireland’s leading employers have began to offer programmes with their organisations designed to empower females within the organisation to build their confidence, a network and giving women the same chance as their male colleagues. Some of these organisations are:

Dell Technologies

Bank of Ireland

Hubspot

Accenture

Vodafone

Ireland’s first dedicated menopause clinic, and Ireland’s only multidisciplinary menopause clinic, driven by over 40 years of medical expertise. Their mission is to empower you to optimise your health and vitality during your menopausal years, so that you can continue to live the life you love. The Menopause Hub helps organsisations to become menopause friendly, through our awareness and education training programmes

Having been founded in 1973, The National Women’s Council of Ireland now has over 190 membership organisations. According to their website “The ambition of the National Women’s Council is an Ireland where every woman enjoys true equality and no woman is left behind. This ambition shapes and informs our work, and, with our living values, how we work.”

Returners Programme

One of the biggest issues the predominantly affects women is returning to the workplace after taking time off. A number of organisation has created Returners Programme. Usually 3-6 month programme where they upskill new recruits that have taken time off previously. It’s proven that these recruits will then become more loyal to their new company and it reduces the cost of recruitment overall for the company. 

UCC’s Bystander intervention aims to raise awareness of not only the importance of safe and effective interventions, but also encourage staff and students to become active bystanders and develop the skills and awareness to address sexual violence harassments across third level institutions.  UCC Bystander released a 15 minute starter video that includes key concepts on how to become an active bystander. This video introduces students to practise becoming a prosocial bystander and also identify and challenge perceived norms of unacceptable behaviour. This video features Prof Louise Crowley, the director of UCC Bystander intervention, as well as students and alumni (student ambassadors) that have undergone the Bystander programme and therefore share their experience and knowledge of becoming an active bystander. A key concept within the 15 minute video identifies that to be a prosocial bystander, consent has to be practised at all times. The programme has been taken up by many different societies within the college, the colleges sports teams and local sports teams around the Cork area. After the murder of Aisling Murphy Prof Crowley appeared on Second Captains Podcast, where she was inundated with requests from schools, third level, sports clubs to present the programme to their establishment.

Ireland’s national freephone number for those who are being abused by current or former boyfriends, partners or husbands. The phone line is operated 24/7, 365 days a year by their volunteers who offer a non-judgemental listening, advise, guidance and other services for women in domestic abuse 

Founded in 2012 Women For Election is a non-partisan, not-for-profit organisation that runs programmes for women who want to enter politics. Since their founding they have helped more than 3,000 women enter politics across the different electoral processes. Their ambition is to have a 50/50 gender split of elected officials by 2030, with the current rate being just 23% of elected officials being females.

Women in Film

According to their website “Women in Film and Television seeks to achieve gender balance in our industry by:

  • Working towards equal employment opportunities for women
  • Ensuring unconscious bias is eliminated in hiring practice
  • Researching and maintaining quantitative data on women working in the audiovisual sector
  • Providing a forum and networking opportunities for female industry professionals
  • Supporting women’s continued professional development
  • Spotlighting media women’s professional achievements
  • Supporting diverse and positive representations of women in industry
  • Supporting female professionals working in the audiovisual sector

“Women on Air is a community of like-minded women and men who want to hear and see more women on the airwaves”. They run a mentor-based training programme for women who have something to say but are not sure footed when it comes to negotiating the media landscape. They have also set up a database for women who are broadcast competent to bring their expertise to media professionals. We urge women who have that expertise and competency to sign up on our website. All board members and volunteers donate their time free of charge, all with an aim of increasing female representation in radio today.

Long before working from home became the norm Ciara Garvan, decided that she had spent one to many days on the M50 in rush hour, and she went about creating WorkJuggle – A recruitment firm that assists people that specialise in matching employers offering alternatives to 9-5 Monday-Friday type employers to candidates that need this type of employment (part-time, reduced hours, working from home etc), so that they can have a better work/life balance.

Originally founded in the UK The 30% Club Ireland is the Irish chapter of the global initiative was founded in 2015 and is designed to increase female representation on boards and CEO of C–Suite organisation to 30% by According to their social media they “work to improve the gender talent pipeline through mentoring programmes, business scholarships, board readiness and leadership development initiatives.”

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