Anne Heraty, the CEO of recruitment firm CPL Resources, has called on the Government to use the transformation of work practices that have been expedited by the pandemic as a means to advance gender parity.
Anne Heraty was speaking at the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants International Women's Day webinar today.
Ms Heraty said the seismic shift in organisational practices and the expedition to remote working, despite the devastating impact that Covid-19 has had, presents a generational opportunity to accelerate the ongoing gender rebalance in the workplace.
However, the recruitment firm boss said that women still carry too much of the caring responsibility which has been borne out during the pandemic lockdown.
Female participation in the workplace in Ireland has significantly increased in the last decade with an almost 10% rise in the percentage of women in work since 2010, with 63.7% of women aged 15 to 64 now in employment.
But despite these improvements, Ireland has fallen behind the European average of 64.2%. The country also significantly lags behind the UK's total of 76.3%.
Ms Heraty said that while there has been a significant shift in Ireland in the past decade in terms of the contribution of women within the workplace, more has to be done.
The flexibility offered from the shift to remote working has presented women with the potential of taking a more prominent role in their place of work but there are other barriers still to be addressed, she said.
"We need to grasp this opportunity, which is seeing a transformation in way people work, and we must ensure that we build in those flexible measures that support the gender rebalance," the CPL CEO said.
"If we want to see a true long-term transformation, Government policy must seek to prioritise the reskilling of women as well as addressing the punitive impact that the costs of childcare are having on the gender diversity in the workplace," she said.
Ms Heraty said the pandemic has presented challenges with an undue burden on women during lockdown regarding home schooling and childcare, even those with both parents working and there needs to be greater childcare supports in place.
"In the short to medium term as we edge towards recovery, I would call on the Government to place women front and centre of the reskilling agenda and put in place pro-active policies that allow women to pivot to high growth sectors which further expedite the gender rebalance in the Irish economy," she stated.
CPL Resources was recently sold in a record deal to Japanese HR firm Outsourcing for €318m.