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New rules mean top jobs in Irish civil service must go to women

When it’s between two candidates of equal merit, female candidates will be priorities.

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THE CIVIL SERVICE is to implement a range of measures in order to promote greater gender balance at senior levels.

The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform has said that the “best person for the job” approach will remain but that women will be prioritised in some situations.

The department has said that:

In such cases, where candidates who compete for Top Level Appointments Committee positions are of equal merit, then priority would be given to the female candidate where they are under-represented on the management board of the department or office in question.

This new policy has been backed by the government and Minister Paschal Donohoe.

Previous figures have shown that women make up just 20% of those in top-tier management in the civil service. This is despite making up about 44% of those at assistant principal level.

The Economic and Social Research Institute is currently undertaking a research project that seeks to examine the factors influencing why women are underrepresented at senior levels in the civil service.

This research is based on interviews and analysis of the 2015 Civil Service Employee Engagement Survey.

The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform has also said that it has recently launched two separate leadership programmes and they expected nominations from these to have a 50/50 gender balance.

Secretary general of the department Robert Watt has described these initiatives as “transformational reforms” while Minister Donohoe has said it is about better management of staff.

“I secured government approval on a range of initiatives to help improve gender balance in the civil service, particularly at senior level, where women are underrepresented,” the minister said.

This is also part of our efforts to reform our approach to HR generally in the civil service and adopt a new strategic direction to better manage our staff and help put us on the road to becoming an employer of choice.

Read: Despite a pledge by Enda Kenny, no increase in the number of female ministers >

Read: The majority of men are against gender quotas >

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Rónán Duffy

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