Despite recent gains there is still huge resistance to diversity in Irish workplaces, the country’s most prominent LGBT business leader has said.
Margot Slattery leads Sodexo Ireland, which employs around 2,000 people.
She is a long-time campaigner for gender equality and gay and lesbian rights.
Speaking to members of WXN (the Womens’ Executive Network) in Dublin this morning, Slattery said many Irish companies still have a long way to go towards helping women and marginalised groups progress to leadership positions.
There is still a significant level of “discomfort around diversity” in Ireland, Slattery said, referencing the low percentage of women on corporate boards and in politics and public life.
“Lots of organisations see workplace diversity and equality as a compliance or human resources issue” said Slattery. “It needs to be so much more than that.”
The business case for gender equality is clear and companies must be reminded of it again and again, she said.
Sodexo’s gender diversity research, which studied 50,000 managers across 80 countries, found profit surged in locations where leadership roles were split equally between men and women.
Workplace diversity is becoming increasingly importance from a hiring perspective, she added.
“If young people don’t see themselves represented in their organisations, if they can’t find role models who they identify with, they will just leave. People do not have the same loyalty to jobs that they once did.”
Gender equality is not just a women’s issue, she added. Men must be incorporated into the conversation and face many of the same obstacles to career progression, such as the cost of childcare.
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