Greater gender balance a priority for Bank of Ireland

Alan Hartley is commercial director at Bank of Ireland. He tells ThinkBusiness about the bank’s commitment to being a prominent advocate for greater gender balance, not just within the company but throughout the country.
Tell us a bit of background about yourself and your career?
I qualified as a chartered accountant but most of my initial career was as an interest rate trader in the dealing rooms of firstly KBC, and then Bank of Ireland. I hung up the trading boots after nearly 20 years and moved into group treasury and then investor relations, before moving again late last year into Bank of Ireland’s retail business to run its commercial office.
How did you come to be involved in inclusion and diversity in Bank of Ireland?
I have three young daughters and have a natural interest in ensuring they get the same opportunities to achieve their goals and ambitions as I did. Andrew Keating, the group CFO, and I were discussing the topic by chance a couple of years ago and he was looking for opportunities to bring inclusion and diversity (I&D), and gender balance in particular, higher up the agenda within his division and the wider bank. I asked to help and it’s taken off from there.
What does it mean for Bank of Ireland today?
Playing a prominent leadership role in promoting greater I&D within the bank and beyond is completely aligned with our strategic ambition to be Ireland’s national champion bank. In addition, it is also completely consistent with and supportive of the bank’s commercial objectives.  
“In Ireland, research suggests that household finances are increasingly being managed by women.”
Why do we need an I&D agenda and how successful is it as achieving its goals?
I think the moral and social imperative in today’s world is clear. What’s less focussed on are the commercial opportunities

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Jane Ohlmeyer: Universities are not changing fast enough

TCD history professor Jane Ohlmeyer says that while progress has been made to give females senior positions, universities are not changing at the pace they should be.
While workplaces increasingly recognise gender inequality as a problem to be tackled, data reveals that less than one in four professors in Irish universities are female. What is more, in their 400-year history of progress and achievement, the places that should act as beacons of excellence and merit have never had a female provost.
As we approach International Women’s Day, Jane Ohlmeyer, professor of modern history at Trinity College Dublin, founder and director of the Long Room Hub research institute, and chair of the Irish Research Council, explains why gender parity in Ireland’s higher education system can’t come fast enough.
According to the latest Higher Education Institutional Staff by Gender report (2018) published by the Higher Education Authority (HEA), in 2017 only 24% of professor posts in universities were occupied by women. This percentage is, of course, better than the staggering 8% back in 2001, and cracks are definitely showing in the glass ceiling of academia. Yet, women seem to have a hard time advancing from the entry level of their academic career, where they outnumber men (51% of lecturers are women, with this number dropping to 38% for senior lecturers) to higher-grade positions. Why is it still so difficult for universities to accept women into their most senior structures?
“The problem is partly structural and partly cultural” explains professor Ohlmeyer. “And when I say structural I just don’t think that there are enough figure women in the system. But I also think that universities are very conservative institutions and for a long time we’ve been dealing with the patriarchy and a very conservative body it is difficult for women to get into. And that’s not true

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Thousands to celebrate International Women’s Day

Bristol Women’s Voice works to make women’s equality in Bristol a reality. ThinkBusiness talks to its chair Penny Gane about the discrimination facing women, as well as its events for International Women’s Day.
What are the issues facing women in your area?
Women’s safety is a big concern with more than 1,500 women per year suffering violence or abuse and young women afraid to walk home alone and being harassed in the street. There are many children living in poverty, often in lone parent families headed by women.
Our gender pay gap needs to improve along with maternity discrimination. We need more women on boards. Women’s health is an issue, with life expectancy being worse than the national average and increasing rates of smoking, drinking and self-harm amongst young women. There is also discrepancy in numbers of boys and girls taking up STEM subjects. All of these issues need to be addressed.
“Women’s safety is a big concern with more than 1,500 women per year suffering violence or abuse.”
What does Bristol Women’s Voice do to address these issues?
Bristol Women’s Voice runs the citywide Zero Tolerance initiative aimed at preventing gender based violence, abuse, harassment and exploitation. Companies and organisations are trained in recognising signs of abuse and how to support those suffering abuse. We run maternity rights sessions throughout the city, sessions on health inequalities, menopause workshops and we are proud to launch our menopause pack at our International Women’s Day celebration on Saturday.
We chair and support the women’s commission and its six task groups. The commission works on strategic change and the development of initiatives. The commission developed Zero Tolerance, 50-50 campaign, and our Women of Lawrence Hill project, based on ensuring that women in more deprived areas are able to benefit from new developments in the city. Our Women in Business group is

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New start-up scholars join Waterford’s Boxworks community

Bank of Ireland’s latest cohort of Scholarship Desks users begin their six-month tenure at the much sought-after Boxworks co-working space 
This week Bank of Ireland’s latest cohort of Scholarship Desks users begin their six-month tenure at the much sought-after Boxworks co-working space in Waterford. 
The aim of the scholarships is simple – to give those who need a desk a vibrant co-working space while they tackle a specific business goal, over a six month period. All of the participants have a “time-bound goal” that they focus on achieving over the allocated period.
Employmum Scholarship Desks
As part of the Scholarship Desks offering in Boxworks, Bank of Ireland also offer a desk to Employmum – the flexible working platform. They then share this resource with a number of local professionals who can benefit from the work space and networking from being in Boxworks, but on a flexible/timeshare basis.
Importance of community
While having a city centre space and desk to use is the main attraction, all users agree that the feeling of community is a huge bonus and as important as the physical space. A key component of the success of this space is the ‘cross-pollination’ which manager Emer Powell does naturally – introducing start-ups to people that may be able to help their businesses to grow and thrive. Bank of Ireland are glad to support Boxworks with these sponsored desks and helping start-ups and SMEs to thrive.
Billy Rooney, founder of CameraShy and former scholarship desk user, said: “I found Boxworks, and the contacts and supports therein immeasurably helpful in building up my business.  The benefits of a co-working space for a fledgling business are truly massive. It’s only when you’re within it do you truly realise its importance in changing not only how you approach your own business, but also how you view yourself and the challenges and opportunities

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The latest on Brexit from Bank of Ireland

Bank of Ireland’s Joe Oliver was joined by head of FX Trading & Strategy Lee Evans and head of manufacturing for business banking Brían Evans to discuss the latest on Brexit.
Bank of Ireland’s latest Brexit update took place this week as senior dealer Joe Oliver was joined by head of FX Trading & Strategy Lee Evans and head of manufacturing for business banking Brían Evans.
The three sat down in Grand Canal Square to discuss the latest developments around Brexit after Tuesday’s “Plan B” vote in the UK Parliament and the challenges facing Irish businesses at present.
Lee Evans opened by discussing Tuesday’s vote and what it means for foreign exchange. “We had the votes on the amendments in the UK parliament and there were three main amendments that took the focus of currency markets – the Spellman amendment, the Brady amendment and the Cooper amendment.
“Going back to last week, we’ve seen a strengthening in Sterling. It’s 5% stronger versus the Euro since the highs in December. One of the things we’ve been saying to customers is to expect more volatility in the exchange rate; the trading range in 2019 has already eclipsed the entire range of last year.  For a couple of years now, we’ve been very focused on the downside for Sterling and the negative implications of Brexit, but we are saying to customers that there are two sides to it and risks in both directions.”
“We import a lot of product from the UK and we have an opportunity to displace that in the Irish market”
Brían Evans gave a great insight into the biggest challenges for manufacturing businesses and what they need to address ahead of Britain leaving the EU. “In the last two and a half years since the vote to leave the EU, I’ve visited over

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Autism accessibility in action

Gearoid Kearney and Miriam O’Sullivan set up myAccessHub which helps businesses and employees learn to be more inclusive of colleagues with autism and other neurodiversities. 

Why we started
We are graduates from the Institute of Technology in Tralee. Miriam completed her Masters in Autism and Technology, and I completed a degree in Computer Science. During this time we came together to create an event called the Autism Summit. This was to raise money for Temple Street children’s hospital through the 100minds initiative for college students. Over the next year, we started to learn about the negative experiences people with autism were having when interacting with businesses whether be as employees and as customers. This motivated us to setup myAccessHub and change this.
“I learned how John F. Kennedy also had Addison’s, which motivated me to never use it as an excuse for not achieving my goals in life.”
The Tom Crean Centre
We started working on the idea in the summer of 2017. A lot of the work that was done was in the development of our training content and what we believe businesses need to know when it comes to providing accessible and inclusive environments to people with autism and other neurodiversities. In September 2017 we were accepted onto the Enterprise Ireland New Frontiers Programme in the Tom Crean Centre. This programme which lasted for six months gave us funding, training, mentorship and the time to develop our business plan.
“Many employers are not aware of these grants.”

Using VR
From our user testing, we arrived at video animation which was best received for the autism awareness modules. The use of Virtual Reality was the best to understand the barriers faced by people with autism in the workplace.
“Hot desking is on trend within workspaces; however, the uncertainty of this would cause anxiety for an employee with autism.”
You have

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Limerick meets Austin, Texas

Pat Carroll was invited by Limerick Council to join its delegation to Texas where the Mayor of the City, and County of Limerick Cllr James Collins and Mayor of Austin Steve Adler, signed a Memorandum of Understanding at a special ceremony in Austin.
Remember those schoolyard jokes where the Texan boasted that everything in Texas is bigger and better than everywhere else? Well, recently I finally understood how this urban myth gained traction.
Some facts about Texas:

The 10th largest economy in the world
Population 28m
The 9th largest investor in the US economy
Austin is the state capital
Fun fact: Texas was an independent nation for nine years (1836-45)

I was recently invited by Limerick Council to join its delegation to Texas where the Mayor of the City and County of Limerick Cllr James Collins and Mayor of Austin Steve Adler signed a Memorandum of Understanding at a special ceremony in Austin.
The delegation, led by the Mayor, included Limerick business stakeholders; the University of Limerick; Limerick Institute of Technology; Limerick Enterprise Development Partnership; Limerick Chamber; the Shannon Group; Bank of Ireland; and the GAA. Also, the chief executive and officials from the Economic Development Directorate of Limerick City and County Council, as well as myself representing Bank of Ireland as the enterprise and community manager for Munster.
“Austin is also a creative hotbed for music and film playing host to the annual SXSW Festival.”

Mayor of Austin Steve Adler and Mayor of the City and County of Limerick Cllr James Collins.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Mayor of the City and County of Limerick Cllr James Collins said, “I’m delighted to sign the Memorandum of Understanding on behalf of the citizens and businesses of Limerick. The agreement will allow partnerships to be formed to enable industry, education and cultural interests on both sides to capitalise and learn from each other.
“Austin

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Scholarship desks available for 2019

Are you working on a business idea? Are you looking for a work space in Cork or Waterford?
Bank of Ireland is offering scholarship desks in the much sought-after coworking spaces the Republic of Work in Cork, and Boxworks in Waterford. Apply here by 12 pm on Wednesday, January 23 and best of luck.
“The aim of the scholarships is simple – to give those in need a desk in a vibrant coworking space.”
See the video of Boxworks below where previous Scholarship Desk users relate their experiences.

 
“The Bank of Ireland scholarship programme really has been one of the big success stories at Republic of Work. BOI’s support has seen most of Cork’s breakthrough startup success stories of the last two years get access to free space,” says DC Cahalane, CEO, Republic of Work.
The scholarship desks will house startups, researchers, and NGOs as well as people from multinationals looking to set up operations in the region.
The aim of the scholarships is simple – to give those in need a desk in a vibrant coworking space while they tackle a specific business goal, over a six month period commencing on 1st February 2019.
To apply for the scholarship, you should state your “time-bound goal”, and you must follow the rules of the coworking space.
Apply here by 12 pm on Wednesday 23rd January and best of luck.

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New Bank of Ireland community hub in Wexford Town

Bank of Ireland has officially opened the doors to its new community hub in Wexford Town.
The branch underwent a major refurbishment. As part of this, a new events room has been added and will be available to local clubs, charities, societies and business organisations to host meetings or events free of charge. The space can cater for up to 50 people and has state of the art technology facilities that can be used for presentations.
“The people of Wexford Town have a new facility to host meetings and events free of charge.”
How people want to bank
“Serving customers brilliantly is a key priority for Bank of Ireland. We want to offer services and products in line with how people want to bank – both now and into the future,” says JJ Keyes, Head of Bank of Ireland, Wexford.
“With more than 250 branches nationwide, we are proud to have the largest branch network of any bank in Ireland. We are delighted to be able to provide the people of Wexford Town with this new facility to enable them to host meetings and events free of charge.”
Make contact
For more details on how to book an event or meeting in the space, please contact:
Andrew Owen (branch manager) Wexford Town, andrew.owen@boi.com .
Karen Edwards (customer service manager) Wexford Town, karen.edwards@boi.com.
 

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What’s it like moving from Moscow to Dublin?

Ekaterina Voznesenskaia was an English teacher in Moscow until one day she decided to change career and move to Dublin. This is her story of spontaneous change and how she experienced Ireland for the first time.
Nothing can be more natural and spontaneous than changing your life in just three months.
After working as a children’s teacher of English and German and as a lecturer of English at the University in Moscow, I suddenly realised that I really want to do something different.
I decided to study marketing and wanted to get an international education in an English-speaking country.
“Moving to Ireland is the most significant and spontaneous decision I have ever made in my life.”
Having visited Ireland as a tourist, before moving here, I was impressed by Trinity College, Ireland’s oldest university and one of the seven ancient universities of Britain and Ireland. And this was my choice – the Trinity College, MSc in Marketing.
In September 2017 I moved to Ireland to begin my studies.
My year at the university was exhilarating and challenging. I was in a minority of students who did not have a business background. For me everything was new. This, however, made it even more exciting, and the whole year of study was a huge challenge.
Even though it was difficult at first, I now realise how important every step of your life is. Every small step leads to more significant results.
Currently, I am working as a consulting analyst at Accenture, conducting research and analysis of customer services and providing recommendations for our high tech software client.
“Life here is not as hectic as in Moscow.”
What was your experience like moving from Russia to Ireland?
Moving to Ireland is the most significant and spontaneous decision I have ever made in my life.
I have never regretted this decision, despite the challenges it brings. I

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