Toolkit for businesses to create gender-balanced leadership teams

Enterprise Ireland reveals the Level Project Action Planning Toolkit to help businesses develop gender balanced leadership teams that are proven to achieve higher sales growth and better profits. 

The Level Project aims to highlight to businesses that enhancing the gender balance of their senior teams can build strong leadership, attract talent and improve overall performance.

It is an initiative of Enterprise Ireland’s “Women in Business” action plan, a wide-ranging strategy to achieve greater representation of women in business, particularly, in business leadership across Ireland.

“If there’s skill, performance and ambition, then it’s about nurturing that and kicking the door open”

The online Action Planning Toolkit will assist companies to assess their own position across six key themes and to put measures in place to help improve gender balance within their own senior teams.  The Action Planning Toolkit produces an individual action plan for each business.

Business balance

“My ideal balance is 50/50, I think it’s really important to have that diversity in gender as some people work better with female leadership and others work better with male leadership,” said Evelyn O’Toole, CEO of CLS.

“I think if you start a trend at the start of a company, that trend intensifies as the company gets bigger. As CEO, I need to make sure that gender diversity is there by bringing the men along with us, to ensure we have that good mix in the company. If there’s skill, performance and ambition, then it’s about nurturing that and kicking the door open.”

“Businesses that reflect the make-up of our society and are more balanced are proven to perform better,” said Minister of State for Trade Promotion, Digital and Company Regulation Robert Troy, TD.

“The Level Project Action Planning toolkit from Enterprise Ireland is a welcome initiative which provides practical steps for companies to put in place measures to address their specific gender balance needs. Gender balance at senior level is critical to organisational success and I want to encourage all Irish companies to look at how this toolkit can help them to achieve greater diversity and greater business success.”

Encouraging diversity

Over the past decade, Enterprise Ireland has delivered a number of initiatives to encourage diversity, promote female entrepreneurship and increase the number of women-led HPSUs, including dedicated funding for early-stage female entrepreneurs, showcasing roles models, capability building combined with peer to peer networking. Strong gains have been made in this area, including: 

In 2020 42pc supported companies under Competitive Start Fund were to women led business.

In 2020 24pc of our High Potential Start Ups included a woman founder, up from 7pc in 2011 and 22pc of deals supported under the Halo Business Angels Network (HBAN) had female founders.

Enterprise Ireland has a dedicated €1m funding stream for woman entrepreneurs under the Competitive Start Fund programme.

Since 2013 75pc of the funds that Enterprise Ireland supports through the Seed &Venture Capital investment have a woman at partner/investment manager level.

In October 2021, European tech magazine SIFTED listed Enterprise Ireland as the number one VC in Europe by deal counts in Female Founders over the past five years.

“Our role at Enterprise Ireland is to support Irish companies to be the best they can be, and we believe that taking action on gender balance in decision making is one way they can do this,” said Enterprise Ireland CEO Leo Clancy.

“The Level Project highlights the real opportunity that exists to broaden the talent pool for knowledge. The Toolkit is the result of the combined effort of people across our own organisation, with a huge amount of help and support from, in particular, the 30% Club and the Balance for Better Business initiative. We encourage Irish businesses to use the toolkit to put in place their gender balance action plan.”

John Kennedy
Award-winning editor John Kennedy is one of Ireland's most experienced business and technology journalists.