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We are seeing what we call a mass flexodus of women leaving top jobs.


This is not a new phenomenon but it has been exasperated by covid and issues of burn out, particularly among women at senior level.

There is a long history in Ireland of women being subjected to inequality in the workplace.

Remember, our constitution Article 41.2.1 currently states that ‘by her life within the home, woman gives to the State a support without which the common good cannot be achieved’; and Article 41.1.2. that ‘mothers shall not be obliged by economic necessity to engage in labour to the neglect of their duties in the home’.

The motherhood penalty is the price women pay for growing their families while they’re in the workforce. Statistics show that moms in the workforce are less likely to be chosen for new roles and promotions, will earn lower salaries, and be held to a higher standard than fathers and non-mothers.

A recent study in 2022 from Maynooth university, found that women with children have a 27 percent fall in earnings immediately after childbirth. They found no striking differences between fields of study; there is a substantial and persistent motherhood effect for all field groupings.

Meanwhile, men enjoy a Fatherhood bonus of approximately 20% according to studies – they are actually paid more than childless men in the workplace as they are deemed to be more committed.

Traditional beliefs about fathers as breadwinners and mothers as caregivers still remain deeply ingrained. Many employers, it seems, have not yet caught up to the fact that women can be both mothers and valuable employees.


77% of organisations have skills shortages – by being flexible and returner and family friendly, organisations can widen their net and get access to an increased talent pool.

One of the main issues for companies is obtaining ‘sticky’ talent – these are women who really want to work and let’s face it, they are not going to run off to Australia any day soon.

We have a database that is bursting with talent – no talent shortage – just the demand for flexibility – companies offering this can win the war for talent.

Staff retention can positively affect the bottom line – the cost of replacing an employee is estimated to be on average €20,000 , not to mention the upheaval and time spent on replacement.

Equality and Diversity in the workplace has shown to have a positive on the bottom line – a diverse employer will benefit from increased morale, creativity and innovation as well as an improved better reputation.

SMEs can gain competitive advantage – people are not necessarily changing jobs solely for a larger salary – SMEs can offer authentic flexibility in competition with the larger multinationals who traditionally expect long hours and a pound of flesh from their employees.


Motherhood penalty – Studies show that the motherhood penalty accounts for 80% of the gender pay gap.

Women are waiting later and later to have children so they can establish themselves in their careers – anecdotally we are hearing about young women who are choosing not to have children at all in order to focus on their career.

Long periods of parental leave and also taking time out to look after ageing parents mean that women have less money to invest in pensions and personal financial growth – this is even worse for single Mums and the lower pay scale.

The Motherhood pay gap – the difference between mothers and non mothers and the difference between Mothers and Fathers means that mothers have less money to put away for a rainy day and plan for the future and old age.

In Europe, the employment rate for women was 63% , however when we drill down, this varies from 88% for women with no children, to 66% for Mothers with children. The rate for men stayed almost the same regardless of children, ranging between 91% for men whether they have children or not. These figures would support the reality of home and caring responsibilities falling predominantly to females leading to their absence from the workplace.

In the latest Gender Balance in Business CSO survey , in which 700 enterprises were surveyed with a 69% response rate, the following was found:
Only one in four members or 25% of Boards of Directors in Ireland were female and there are only 19% female chairpersons in Ireland.
Seven in ten Senior Executives in Ireland in 2023 were male.

The Construction sector had the lowest level of female representation in Senior Executive roles in 2023 at 13.4%.

The gender pay gap in Ireland stands at 11.9%
Irish women score better in education than Irish men – their under representation in the labour force , particularly at senior level can be contributed to a number of factors including the motherhood penalty as well as bias in the workplace and in some cases a traditional male dominated culture or industry , for example construction and engineering.

What can companies do to address this imbalance at senior level?

AVOID THE FLEXIGLASS CEILING – Karen is currently doing a masters in EDI and a thesis on this subject

1. The main reason women leave their place of work according to the majority who contact us here at Employflex is the lack of flexibility. Offering flexibility during those years when a mother is stretched to the max, can go a long way to retain your quality staff. Flexibility can be full time with flexibility, reduced hours, core hours, job share, term time, hybrid or remote work.

2. Being returner friendly and eliminating the extent to which salary and career progression opportunities are drastically reduced for women on taking a career break can help here . This could potentially encourage women back into the workforce ( at the level they may have had to leave for financial reasons or other)

3. Removing bias at hiring stage – opening up your talent pool by de-genderising job specifications and improving the messaging of your company will make your company more attractive to a more diverse candidate.
The new laws around gender pay gap reporting is welcome step in the right direction to improve transparency in companies with more than 250 employees.

4. Be committed and authentic to your Equality, Diversity and Inclusion policies – the word on the street is far more powerful than any empty diversity washing from your PR team.

5. Have definite career progression paths for women and ensure that women are not falling into the confidence gap and being promoted at the same rate and level as their male counterparts. In general women are not great for ‘owning’ their achievements and for putting themselves forward for promotion. Mentors and sponsors can help here.

6. Shared parental leave – a culture where parents can take shared parental leave would do a lot to level the playing field. Men are reluctant to take this leave for a variety of reasons.

7. Offering other parental support – new legislation is great – Since 1st July 2022, parent’s leave entitles each parent to 7 weeks’ leave during the first 2 years of a child’s life, or in the case of adoption, within 2 years of the placement of the child with the family. Culture to take this leave – many fathers do not take it as culture is not open to it.

8. We need men as allies – Irish Mammy’s boys mentality needs to be stamped out

See full article here