Chamber Blog


Why Women Must Drive To Outnumber Dave

The FTSE 100 lists only seven female CEO’s – in fact, there are more men called Dave than there are women in that grouping of business elites.

I’d bet that if I showed you photographs of the 93 male CEO’s – who are paid 77% more than their female equivalents - no one would ever think: ‘jeez, that tie makes him look wile flabby’ or ‘are those shoes LK Bennett’? No one would say ‘look at the size of this man boobs – get a jacket on around that!’.

This is a scenario which I posed to students during a speech at last week’s Ulster University Law Society ‘Law Ball’ at Magee Campus. It was an honour to address the attendees and timely – given that we just celebrated 100 years since women won their right to vote - to acknowledge the work that remains to be completed in the battle for gender equality.

These students are among the lawmakers of the future who will address the gender quality question through the prism of 21st century values. They didn’t need reminding that, despite great progress, our world in 2018 still does not treat men and women the same.

I have faith that they understand that equality means the equal distribution of high ideals, such as respect and recognition, and also the practical elements of everything from personal safety, equal pay, and responsibility for children.

Equality must be the starting point – equality for men and women of every colour, religion and sexual orientation.

I believe that law students who celebrated together at Thursday’s ‘Law Ball’ will have a unique appreciation of the fragility of rights and equality as they develop their knowledge, skills and aspirations in a time when Donald Trump’s school of governing is shaping global politics and Brexit is moulding the future of the UK and Ireland.

They will have an appreciation that sometimes the road to a more enlightened society is not built on a straight line and that rights – even when fought and won – can become eroded.

One of the key ways to ensure equality is for more women to get involved at every level of business, government and civic society. Women in leadership just like Eimear Blaney, the presiding President of the University of Ulster Law Society, will lead the drive towards parity with our male counterparts.

Only by taking on the challenges of leadership can we drive for true equality. We can then perhaps also, gain parity in number, with the Daves, Johns, Michaels and the rest on the FTSE 100 and well beyond.

Jennifer McKeever