Business News

Enterprise Ireland announce support of IBWC 2014

By Business & Finance
16 April 2014

The countdown is on to the first international business women’s conference to be held on the island of Ireland, between May 12-15th in Belfast, an event which has been boosted by sponsorship support from Enterprise Ireland.

The International Business Women’s Conference – ‘Creating a New Economy’ (IBWC 2014) hosted by Women in Business NI, will bring delegates from across the island of Ireland and the globe to empower and inspire change, unlock economic potential and build business capacity in what is being described as an ‘economic ripple effect’ for the whole island.

Among its core themes, the conference will explore the economic and business case for gender diversity – a theme which featured prominently at the recent World Economic Forum in Davos. The business case is increasingly compelling and as we emerge from global recession, evidence suggests it offers significant economic competitive advantage to those regions which address it properly.

Speaking about the conference agenda, Roseann Kelly, chief executive, Women in Business NI said: “Evidence shows that employing more women and creating a balanced workforce aids innovation, increases the representation of consumers in employee teams and therefore assists product design and development.

“It also builds more effective team participation. Taken together it is clear that these factors all deliver stronger operational performance and higher levels of employee and consumer engagement. Across a number of studies, the end result is shown to be greater productivity, improving companies’ operational performance by between 20 and 35%.

“Empowering women in business is not only therefore the right thing to do; it makes good business sense for all. We look forward to discussing these important issues at our conference and understanding how we can best unlock the economic potential and competitive advantage for the benefit of both economies on the island of Ireland.”

Globally, economies and regions are already taking hugely positive strides in this area. Recognising the economic imperative of doing do, Japan’s Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, has recently set a goal to increase the percentage of women in leadership positions to more than 30% by 2020.

In some recent studies, Ireland has appeared to make progress in this regard. A recent PwC Women in Work report highlighted that Ireland had made the most progress year on year in achieving gender equality in the labour market, leapfrogging the UK and now just behind the USA. Nordic countries however continue to lead the way in closing the gender gap through policies aimed at promoting women in leadership and a focus on education and flexibility in the workplace.

IBWC 2014 will explore these issues and will welcome keynote speakers from across the island and beyon, individuals such as: Carla Busazi, editor in chief, Huffington Post UK; Helena Morrissey, founder of the 30% Club targeting female leadership in FTSE100 companies; Professor Lizbeth Goodman, SmartLab, NUI, Dublin;  Ann Francke, MD of the Chartered Institute of Management and Dr Anita Sands, former Group managing director of UBS and member of the Global Irish Network.

Former US Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton has also been invited to address the conference and Vital Voices, the global female mentoring and leadership initiative she formed when First Lady, will host a Global Ambassadors Programme alongside and integrated within IBWC 2014 in Belfast.

Speaking about their support for the Conference, Enterprise Ireland explained: “Enterprise Ireland is delighted to be supporting the IBWC. Events like this put the spotlight on women and their tremendous contribution to the wider economic community. We believe it presents a unique opportunity to explore the challenges and opportunities of creating a new economy and to understand how best to maximise our talent through gender diversity.

“The voice of business women must be heard in ensuring the economies on both sides of the border are more competitive and more sustainable in the future. Likewise we believe that IBWC 2014, and the powerful relationships it seeks to form locally and globally, can have an economic ripple effect, felt far beyond these shores.”

IBWC 2014 is also supported by Invest Northern Ireland, Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister, Department for Employment & Learning, Visit Belfast, Ulster Bank, NYSE Euronext and Queen’s University Belfast.