Practical actions on how females can move up the corporate ladder and into leadership roles were highlighted at an International Women’s Day event organised by ACCA Ireland and sponsored by Mazars. Guest speakers Carol Bolger and Aileen O’Toole drew from their own career journeys and from a two-year research process which led to the publication of WomanUp, an action plan on female leadership.
Introducing the breakfast event, ACCA Ireland President John Gaynor said: “The global theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is ‘press or progress’. It’s an acknowledgement that we need to make real, measurable progress on the many issues that face women around the world, including in the workplace – from gender pay parity to equality of opportunity.
“Business leaders must lead the charge. But of course, as much as we expect our leaders to fight for opportunity and equality, it’s important for ACCA to also walk this talk. And I am proud to be a member of an organisation that embraces diversity so openly and thoroughly.”
In their addresses, Carol and Aileen had a number of key messages for women who want to progress their careers:
- Don’t try to be the best versions of men you can be, instead be true to your own natural tendencies
- Recognise that you need to “flex” your management style to adapt to corporate culture
- Believe in yourself and own your achievements
- Plan your careers and not give up despite the setbacks
- Increase your visibility within companies and enhance your personal brand
- Seek opportunities to get P&L opportunities, if they are not part of your current role or responsibilities
- Grab opportunities by applying for new roles or taking on new projects
- Recognise the importance of sponsors, senior figures who can advocate for you,
- Enlist the support of your networks, mentors, peers and family members to offer support on the career journey. Those supporters are as likely to be men as women
Carol and Aileen brought those messages to life from examples drawn from their own careers. A career banker, Carol is a Chartered Director, a Certified Bank Director and an assessor of boards with the Institute of Directors in Ireland. Aileen is a co-founder of The Sunday Business Post and currently works as a Digital Strategist and a Chartered Director.
They were part of a group who ran a leadership programme for mid-career women and published the WomanUp action plan. It can be downloaded from the WomanUp site
Also speaking at this event was Emer O’Riordan, Audit & Assurance Director Mazars and Member of ACCA Ireland, who said:
“Mazars strives to be a positively different audit, tax and advisory firm. Our vision for 2020 is to be recognised in the marketplace as a truly international, integrated and independent organisation, focused on our people and our clients, and an organisation that stands out for our contribution to society. We can only achieve this if we create a supportive work environment with diverse leadership teams which reflect our clients and society. We must also ensure that team members feel supported to achieve their best for both our clients and the community, and feel valued for the work they do. In this globally challenging professional services environment, it is more important than ever to stay true to our value-based heritage. One of these values is our commitment to gender parity. Whilst we have made progress towards creating a more diverse and inclusive culture, we recognise that much more needs to be done. Taking pro-active steps to address the gender imbalance at senior management level will continue to be a key strategic priority.”