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Women need more P&L experience to be considered for leadership roles

Getting more profit and loss (P&L) responsibility would help women in corporate roles to advance to leadership positions, an International Women’s Day event organised by ACCA Ireland was told today.

The subject choices girls take at school and college as well as the roles they are in at early stages in their careers can affect progression through the corporate leadership pipeline, according to Carol Bolger, a co-founder of a new female leadership consultancy WomanUp.

Addressing the ACCA Ireland breakfast event, Carol said: “More women than men work in corporate support functions which are not always considered to be natural pathways to senior management roles. Such highly capable women, with huge potential to progress to senior roles, often lack P&L responsibility and that’s what is in demand in the C Suite.”

“My message to those women is that they need to look for opportunities that will give them that vital experience that will enable then to ultimately run their own P&L,” she added. “They might also consider doing a course or pursue a professional qualification.”

Carol shared her own career journey, and how she upskilled and took on projects that provided that P&L experience. She also advised on other actions that women can take to progress to more senior corporate roles, which are drawn from WomanUp, an action plan on female leadership. She quoted World Economic Forum (WEF) data indicates it will take 61 years for gender parity to be achieved in Europe.

“That’s too long to wait,” she said. “We have published the plan to address the reality that progress in creating better gender balance in business has been slow. While there has been much research on this topic, there has not been a focus on what practical solutions are needed to address the current imbalance. That is the gap that that the WomanUp plan is filling,” she said.

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