Business director of Financial Services Ireland, Patricia Callan, has been appointed chair of the Women in Finance Ireland Charter steering group.

Minister of State for the Department of Finance Sean Fleming has announced the appointment to a government-backed industry initiative.

It comes after a study by ratings agency DBRS Morningstar found that gender diversity is improving at board level in banks, but lagging behind in executive positions.

In Ireland, the proportion of female directors sitting on bank boards is 41% – significantly higher than the 34% of management and executive positions held by women.

Across Europe, a small handful of women hold key executive director and board chair positions.

Only in DBN Norway do women hold both senior positions.

Francesca McDonagh’s departure from Bank of Ireland for a new role at Credit Suisse has reduced the number of female senior banking group directors in Europe from five in 2021 to four.

Ulster Bank’s exit from the Irish market will also mean the loss of its CEO, Jane Howard, from senior management.

The Women in Finance Charter is one of a number of groups created to increase the proportion of women in leadership roles.

Signatories commit their organizations to take steps to promote women to leadership and board positions to achieve better gender balance and a more inclusive work environment. Progress towards the targets will be monitored and reported to ESRI, although the targets themselves may not be met.

According to the competence of the Steering Group of the Charter, the Minister appoints a chairman from the representatives of the industry for a two-year term.

Patricia Callan said greater gender balance leads to a wider talent pool and greater diversity of perspectives, leadership styles, innovation and creativity in the industry.

“This means greater productivity and an even greater contribution of financial services to the economy as a whole. The government’s support and ESRI’s involvement means that this charter adds new weight to our joint efforts to ensure that our industry reflects our customer base and wider society.”

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