Women’s Executive Chief Calls For Diversity to be a Government Priority

Canadian experience shows that progress on diversity too slow, even with Government support

Annalise Murphy, Sharon Horgan, Marissa Carter, Lucy Gaffney, Carolan Lennon, Marguerite Sayers, Sharon Donnery and Iseult Ward named some of WXN’s ‘Ireland’s Most Powerful Women: Top 25’

Today, 25 of Ireland’s most influential and successful women will be acknowledged for their achievements by the Women’s Executive Network (WXN).

Winners on this list include: Olympian Annalise Murphy; CEO of Leicester City Football Club, Susan Whelan; International Screenwriter, Actress and Producer Sharon Horgan; Founder and Chief Executive of Cocoa Brown, Marissa Carter; Chairperson of Communicorp, Lucy Gaffney; Deputy Governor of the Central Bank, Sharon Donnery; CEO of Beats Medical, Dr Ciara Clancy; and Co-Founder of FoodCloud, a not-for-profit social enterprise, Iseult Ward.

“Despite hosting Ireland’s Most Powerful Women: Top 25, recognising the success of women is just not enough to cause an increase in diverse representation at board levels in Irish business,” said Sherri Stevens, CEO, WXN.

“Our experience in Canada shows that even with a government-backed call for increased diversity on corporate boards, progress has been too slow.  Today, we’re still seeing representation rise by only 1-2% each year, leaving us nowhere near the national target of 30 per cent.”

She continued: “Ireland has no hope of improving its ratios without Government backing.  At present 12% of ISEQ board directors are women, with no available figures demonstrating LGBTQ, minority or disability representation.  20 of the 50 listed ISEQ companies have no female board representation.  That’s just not good enough and shows there is no real commitment to change at the highest levels of Irish business”.

“Ireland’s new Taoiseach must get behind the diversity cause and put Government resource and commitment into it,” Ms Stevens concluded.

For further media information please contact:

Catherine Logan /// 086 811 4785 /// catherine@stratcom.ie

Laura Egan /// 086 081 7778/// laura@stratcom.ie



WXN creates a list of Winners through research and the counsel of the WXN Advisory Board. Ireland’s Most Powerful Women: Top 25 Award Winners are in the following categories:

Business Leaders Award

This category recognises eleven women who hold the most senior positions in Ireland’s largest companies.

WXN creates a short list of Nominees through broad research, including research of the Top 40 companies by turnover and employee numbers as defined by the Irish Times Top 1000 companies of 2016.

  • Catherine Duffy, First Female Chair, A&L Goodbody
  • Louise Foody, Global Marketing Director, Kingspan
  • Lucy Gaffney, Chairperson, Communicorp
  • Aisling Hassell, Global Head of CX, Airbnb
  • Carolan Lennon, Managing Director, open eir
  • Catherine Moroney, Head of Business Banking, AIB
  • Dr Nuala Murphy, President, Icon Clinical Services, Icon plc
  • Dr Grainne Quinn, Chief Medical Officer & EVP, Perrigo Company
  • Marguerite Sayers, Managing Director, ESB Networks Ireland
  • Julie Sharp, Head of Group HR, Bank of Ireland
  • Susan Whelan, CEO, Leicester City Football Club 

Entrepreneurs Award

This category recognises three women who own and run some of Ireland’s largest independent companies. Nominees must actively manage the daily affairs and own at least 20% of the shares of the company if it is private or at least 5% of the shares of a publicly-traded company.

  • Marissa Carter, Founder, Cocoa Brown
  • Alison Cowzer, Co-Founder, East Coast Bakehouse
  • Jane Ni Dhulchaointigh, Founder, Sugru 

Public Sector Leaders Award

This category recognises four women who hold senior positions and are making an impact on the public sector in Ireland and/or Europe.  Winners cannot currently be elected by the voting public and must be Irish but do not have to be based in Ireland.

  • Eileen Creedon, Chief State Solicitor (up to 18th June, 2017, who is now subsequently being sworn in as a High Court Judge)
  • Sharon Donnery, Deputy Governor (Central Banking), Central Bank of Ireland
  • Dee Forbes, Director General, RTE
  • Justice Siofra O’Leary, European Court of Human Rights

Trailblazers Award

This category recognises three women who have ignored boundaries and burst through barriers.  Each Winner is the first or only Irish woman to achieve such a notable accomplishment.   Winners may have furthered the cause of other women through their work, or they may have established a precedent for others to follow.

  • Danni Barry, Ireland’s only female Michelin-starred chef
  • Professor Lydia Lynch, Associate Professor, Trinity College Dublin; Assistant Professor, Harvard Medical School
  • Iseult Ward, Co-Founder, FoodCloud

Arts, Sport and Entertainment

This category recognises three women who have added to the recognition and reputation of Ireland through art, music, literature, broadcasting, journalism, film, the performing arts or sport.

  • Selina Cartmell, Director, The Gate Theatre
  • Sharon Horgan, International Screenwriter and Actress
  • Annalise Murphy, Olympian

Future Leaders

This category acknowledges Women under 30 years of age who have successfully started their own business. Nominees will be assessed on their company turnover and number of people employed, plus the scalability and future potential to grow.  Overall originality and innovation will also be considered.

  • Dr Ciara Clancy, CEO, Beats Medical


Winners are introduced to the Hall of Fame upon receiving their third Award.  This allows new future leaders to emerge in subsequent years, while still recognising and honouring the achievements of these great women.

  • Bronwyn Brophy VP, Early Technologies, Medtronic, EMEA
  • Sharon Buckley, Commercial Director, Musgrave
  • Caroline Keeling, CEO, Keelings
  • Rosaleen Burke, MSVP Quality, Boston Scientific Endoscopy, Urology and Pelvic Health, Global Sterilization and Distribution
  • Siobhan Talbot, CEO, Glanbia plc


The Women’s Executive Network (WXN) is an innovative networking, mentoring, professional and personal development organisation which informs, inspires, connects and recognises its global community of more than 22,000 women, men and their organizations.

WXN enables its partners and corporate members to become and to be recognised as employers of choice and leaders in the advancement of women. It hosts Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Awards and Ireland’s Most Powerful Women: Top 25 Awards.

Founded in 1997, in Canada, WXN became Canada’s leading organisation dedicated to the advancement and recognition of women in management, executive, professional and board roles.

In 2008, WXN launched in Ireland, followed by London, UK in 2015, creating an international community of female leaders.

WXN is a Founding Member of the Canadian Board Diversity Council, dedicated to increasing the diversity of Canada’s corporate boards.

About The Awards – Ireland’s Most Powerful Women: Top 25:

Every year the Women’s Executive Network (WXN) identifies and celebrates the outstanding work of 25 Irish women.  These are women who, by their success, encourage others to follow, be ambitious and to succeed.

To mark this year’s awards, WXN is hosting two events: A Leadership Summit which is an afternoon of professional learning for members of the network; and an Awards Dinner during which the winners receive their awards.  Together, more than 650 senior professionals will attend the two events.

What Speed Do You Operate On?

Recently, my husband and I made a trip to the local garden centre. We sought out the tree and plant guru there, Kevin. This garden expert started out showing us a selection of six possible trees. As soon as he finished his explanation on each tree, I said, “We’ll take this one and that one.” Kevin looked a bit surprised and asked if I was sure I didn’t want to think about each of the options more. I looked at my husband, who really didn’t care about what trees we picked, and I quickly knew what I wanted. “No, thanks.” Then we proceeded to the cash register to pay for the trees when I saw some annuals just outside the far door. I proceeded to actually run through the garden centre to quickly grab these flowers as I didn’t want to hold up Kevin and my husband, Jeff (or myself!).

Later, Jeff told me what Kevin had said to him when I went dashing through the garden centre: “I think she only has one speed!” And let me tell you, I don’t think the speed he was referring to was mindful. When I heard this, my ego took over. At first, I felt a sense of pride for acting so quickly and decisively, packing it all in a short amount of time. And then my ego swung to the other end of the spectrum as I felt crestfallen that all of this work I have been doing over the past few years around mindfulness seemed to disappear and I was back to my “old self,” moving at a super-charged speed through this world. I watched the scene of me running through the garden centre like a video in my mind.

Then I stopped and thought about what I tell my clients: mindfulness is a practice. It is not something I will ever do perfectly, but perhaps the imperfections of it make it perfect for me in each moment. And the fact I noticed was important. I share this with you because I want you to know that it is okay to fail. Failure is part of the journey. And yes, even I, the preacher and teacher of mindfulness, sometimes go flying through my day on autopilot until the awareness comes in. I was thankful to Kevin as he served as a messenger showing me I was starting to lose my way in that moment of how I want to live and be. I was cramming in too much and unnecessarily driving up my adrenaline and cortisol levels. When I was able to stop and see that, I could go back to choose moving and thinking with more focus and purpose. Life is a journey, not a destination.

Interested in working and living in a more mindful way to reduce your stress levels? Here are some exercises to try.

  1. Slow down. For 10 minutes each day, pick an exercise you’d normally do on autopilot such as driving or typing out emails, and slow it down to half time. Really focus on the physical sensations of touching the keyboard and the thoughts that go through your mind.

  2. Deep breathing. For three minutes, three times a day, close your eyes and practice deep breathing. Breathing in through your nose and out through your nose is the best way to calm down your nervous system. This is a great way to recharge your batteries at intervals throughout the day.

  3. Connect with others. Reach out to one person each day in a completely selfless way. This might be an email to check in with someone on a personal level. Or, it could be dropping off a takeout dinner gift certificate for a busy friend. When you give away love, you receive more back.

  4. Nurture your body. focus on taking care of your body Several times a week. This could be a yoga class, spa appointment or even just lying out on a lounge chair to relax. Put down the book for a while and just feel your body.

CareyAnn Oestreicher @potentialultd

Blogger Carey-Ann Oestreicher, MBA, BA (Hons.), Chief Engagement Officer, Potential Unlimited

Recipient of a Top 40 Under Forty Business Achievement award, Carey-Ann Oestreicher, owner of the career development firm for women, Potential Unlimited (www.potentialunlimited.ca), holds a MBA and has worked in a variety of senior positions including vice-president level. Her focus is her family and helping women in business find true peace and happiness in their lives while achieving new heights in their careers.

Carey-Ann has been featured in a variety of media because of the success she has experienced with her holistic approach to developing women leaders and entrepreneurs. Her appearances include: CTV’s Canada AM, TSN, CBC News, Global Television, City TV News, The Globe and Mail, Canadian Business magazine, The Toronto Star and The Canadian Press.