New strategy launched to tackle drop in female leadership

Ibec Medtech and Engineering, the Ibec group which represents the sectors, launched ‘Inspiring girls, supporting female leaders’ ahead of International Women’s Day, setting out the business strategy for increasing the number of women working in, as well as progressing into, leadership in manufacturing.

Irish Medtech Association Acting Director Nessa Fennelly today welcomed the launch of the gender leadership strategy. She said “A total of 117 manufacturing companies took part in this research representing a broad range of manufacturing activities, including medtech, chemical and pharmaceuticals, electronics, in addition to more traditional manufacturing enterprises. Businesses have made notable progress over the past five years in implementing policies to increase the number of women rising to leadership with the majority of manufacturing businesses offering flexible working arrangements. Nearly one in three (30%) have formal mentoring programmes for women in place, and nearly one in five (18%) have career progression programmes for women in place, according to the latest research by Ibec, the 30% Club and DCU. However, the majority (76%) still don’t set targets for representation”.

Ibec Medtech and Engineering Senior Executive Ciara Finlay said, “Horizontal segregation in certain sectors and vertical segregation at certain levels remain a significant challenge for women. Recent research by Ibec revealed that the number of women at Head of Function level for manufacturing dropped from 15% in 2001 to 3% in 2018 compared to other sectors which saw significant improvements like HR/personnel (72%), customer services (53%) and finance/accounting (39%). But the manufacturing industry are working to reverse this trend, according to research conducted by the Ibec Research Unit, in association with the 30% club, and DCU, two out of five (41%) manufacturing businesses have a formal diversity and inclusion policy in place and two out of five (42%) manufacturing organisations felt that opportunities for women in their organisation had improved.

"Additionally, nearly one in five manufacturing businesses (18%) plan to implement new initiatives this year, with 31% looking at recruitment and promotion initiatives, 24% considering mentoring programmes, and 14% exploring programmes for career returners. Ibec Medtech and Engineering are bringing businesses together to share their experiences on promoting best practice and policies that support women. We’re proud to showcase the range of proactive initiatives which Alcon, Abbott, Cook Medical, Johnson and Johnson, Medtronic and Boston Scientific have introduced in our strategy ‘Inspiring girls, supporting female leaders’.”

Chair of the Ibec Medtech and Engineering Taskforce, and Medtronic Galway VP and General Manager Tony Neary said, “We’re committed to creating a diverse workforce in medtech and manufacturing that better represents the people we serve and supports innovation. Ireland is one of the top 7 employers of medtech professionals in Europe as well as the greatest employer of medtech professionals, per capita, with more than 40,000 people working in the sector. Businesses leaders must do more to manage the talent pipeline and increase the number of female leaders. While one in four (28%) manufacturing businesses track the promotion success of men and women and only one in five (19%) track performance by gender according to research by Ibec, the 30% Club and DCU. Although women are as ambitious as men, they are not always as confident. That’s why we must ensure more balanced and less biased recruitment practices, facilitate female returners and support working parents, as well as offer mentoring opportunities to empower high potential employees. Women are the largest pool of untapped labour, moreover there is extensive evidence that women in leadership leads to better financial management as well as operating results. That’s why companies must make it their business to support female leadership.”