The International Equal Pay Movement and EU Directive on Pay Transparency: Impact on Irish Business and Recruitment of Senior Finance Professionals

In a recent article for Accountancy Plus, Sandra Quinn, Partner at Barden and expert in Executive Research and Senior Appointments, discusses the International Equal Pay Movement and EU Directive on Pay Transparency, and their impact on Irish Business and the recruitment of senior finance professionals.


In an era of increasing awareness and advocacy for gender equality in the workplace, the international equal pay movement and the European Union’s (EU) Directive on Pay Transparency have taken centre stage in addressing the gender pay gap (GPG). This article explores the significance of these developments, their implications for Irish businesses, and how they relate to the recruitment of finance professionals in Ireland.

The International Equal Pay Movement

The international equal pay movement is a global initiative aimed at eliminating wage disparities between men and women. It is founded on the principle of equal pay for equal work or work of equal value, irrespective of gender. The movement recognises the importance of closing the gender pay gap, which persists in many parts of the world, including Ireland. The reasons behind the gender pay gap are multifaceted, including factors like occupational segregation, lower representation of women in leadership roles, and maternity-related issues. The international equal pay movement seeks to address these disparities. The international equal pay movement is not confined to a single country or region but encompasses global efforts to promote wage equality. Organisations such as the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and UN Women play significant roles in advancing this movement. Their initiatives focus on policy changes, data collection and analysis, and awareness campaigns to highlight the importance of equal pay.

Ireland, like many other countries, has grappled with a persistent gender pay gap. The gender pay gap in the Republic was 9.6% last year, according to the Central Statistics Office (CSO). The highest GPG by age was in the 50-59 age group at 16.7%. The economic sector with the highest gender pay gap was the financial, insurance and real estate sector at 24.7%, with average hourly earnings of €41.93 for males and €31.59 for females. When the 30% Club, an organisation where members commit to at least 30% female representation on their boards and executive leadership teams, was established in Ireland in 2015, the percentage of women on ISEQ 20 boards was just under 12.5%. In 2022, that percentage had increased to 32%.  In Ireland at present, only employers with 250 or more employees are required to disclose their gender pay gap reports. However, by 2025, this requirement will be extended to companies with as few as 50 employees, and they will need to submit these reports on an annual basis.

EU Directive on Pay Transparency

In the European Union, the Directive on Pay Transparency has emerged as a key instrument in the fight against the gender pay gap. This directive mandates EU member states to implement measures aimed at increasing pay transparency within their jurisdictions.

Key Provisions of the Directive

The EU Directive on Pay Transparency comprises several key provisions, including:

  • Obligation for Employers: Employers with at least 250 employees must disclose information about their pay structures, including gender-specific pay gaps, to ensure transparency.
  • Gender Pay Gap Reporting: Employers must annually report gender pay gap data, enabling employees, job seekers, and the general public to access this information.
  • Job Vacancy Information: Employers must provide information about job vacancies, such as pay scales and salary ranges, to promote transparency and equal opportunity.
  • Employee Rights: Employees have the right to request information about their individual pay relative to colleagues of the opposite gender. Employers must respond to these requests.

Implications for Irish Businesses

The EU Directive on Pay Transparency has significant implications for Irish businesses, particularly when recruiting finance professionals.

  • Increased Transparency: The directive promotes transparency by obliging employers to report on gender pay gaps and provide detailed information about job vacancies. This transparency can create a more level playing field for all candidates, ensuring that salary negotiations are based on merit and experience rather than gender.
  • Legal Compliance: Irish businesses with operations in EU member states will need to comply with the directive’s requirements. Failure to do so could result in legal repercussions and potential financial penalties.
  • Equal Opportunity: Pay transparency and compliance with the directive can contribute to gender equality in the workplace by providing women with the tools to advocate for equal pay. Finance professionals who identify pay disparities may be more inclined to seek positions where they are fairly compensated.
  • Recruitment and Attraction of Talent: In the highly competitive market for finance professionals, Irish businesses that embrace pay transparency may have a recruiting advantage. Top-tier candidates, regardless of gender, may be more attracted to organisations that prioritise transparency and equality.

Recruitment of Finance Professionals in Ireland

The recruitment of finance professionals in Ireland is a critical activity of senior leaders in all organisations and as a result, plays a pivotal role in company performance and the country’s economy. Irish leadership teams can have gender disparities in leadership positions and pay scales. The international equal pay movement and the EU Directive on Pay Transparency have the potential to reshape the landscape of finance professional recruitment in Ireland, especially in senior positions.

Gender Disparities in Finance

Historically, the finance sector has been characterised by gender imbalances in leadership roles. Women have been underrepresented in executive positions and on boards of directors in Irish organisations. This underrepresentation often extends to disparities in compensation, which are perpetuated by the lack of pay transparency.

Recruitment Practices

Recruiting finance professionals involves a complex process of identifying and attracting the best candidates. Traditionally, recruitment practices may have been influenced by unconscious biases and a lack of transparency regarding compensation.

The international equal pay movement and the EU Directive on Pay Transparency can bring about several positive changes in the recruitment of finance professionals in Ireland:

  • Encouraging Gender Diversity: The focus on pay transparency and gender equality may encourage finance companies to adopt inclusive recruitment practices and prioritise gender diversity in senior roles.
  • Enhanced Candidate Experience: Pay transparency ensures that candidates have access to relevant salary information during the recruitment process, allowing them to make informed decisions. This can improve the overall candidate experience.
  • Competitive Advantage: Companies that actively embrace equal pay practices and comply with the EU Directive on Pay Transparency may have a competitive edge in attracting top talent, regardless of gender.
  • Re-evaluation of Compensation Structures: The emphasis on pay transparency may prompt companies to re-evaluate their compensation structures to ensure they are fair, competitive, and aligned with market standards.
  • Retention and Employee Satisfaction: An equitable pay structure can lead to higher job satisfaction and retention rates among finance professionals, reducing the need for frequent recruitment.

Equal Pay and Market Competitiveness

For Irish businesses, embracing equal pay practices is not just a matter of compliance but also a strategic imperative. In the recruitment of finance professionals, companies must consider the following factors:

  • Talent Attraction: Talented CPAs and similarly qualified finance professionals are highly sought after. Organisations that prioritise equal pay and transparency may be more attractive to candidates, leading to a wider pool of top-tier talent to choose from.
  • Reputation and Brand Image: Companies that are known for their commitment to equal pay and gender diversity tend to have a positive reputation, which can be a valuable asset in attracting both clients and employees.
  • Competitive Advantage: In finance, where expertise and performance are paramount, attracting the best talent can be a key differentiator. Companies that value equal pay can leverage this advantage to outperform competitors.
  • Employee Engagement and Retention: A workforce that feels valued and fairly compensated is more likely to be engaged and loyal. This can lead to reduced turnover and the cost savings associated with recruiting and training new staff.
  • Compliance and Risk Mitigation: Adhering to the EU Directive on Pay Transparency is not only a legal obligation but also a risk mitigation strategy. Non-compliance can lead to legal issues and damage a company’s reputation.

Impact on Finance Professionals

Finance professionals in Ireland, both men and women, stand to benefit from the international equal pay movement and the EU Directive on Pay Transparency. These developments ensure that they are compensated fairly and have access to information that enables them to make informed decisions about their careers.

  • Fair Compensation: The emphasis on pay transparency means that finance professionals can be confident that their compensation is based on merit, experience, and the value they bring to the organisation, rather than gender.
  • Career Advancement: Equal pay practices and gender diversity initiatives create a more inclusive workplace where career advancement opportunities are available to all, irrespective of gender.
  • Negotiation and Empowerment: The transparency brought about by the EU Directive on Pay Transparency empowers finance professionals to negotiate for better compensation and benefits based on a clearer understanding of market rates and internal pay structures.
  • Job Satisfaction: When finance professionals know they are being paid fairly, their job satisfaction is likely to increase, which, in turn, can lead to higher productivity and better performance.
  • Leadership Opportunities: Gender diversity initiatives that result from the international equal pay movement can create more leadership opportunities for women in finance, helping to break down gender barriers in executive roles.


The international equal pay movement and the EU Directive on Pay Transparency are not only catalysts for change in the fight against the gender pay gap but also influential factors in the recruitment of finance professionals in Ireland. Irish businesses must recognise that embracing these principles is not just a matter of compliance but a strategic move that can attract and retain top talent, enhance brand reputation, and ensure fair compensation for all.

As the international equal pay movement continues to gain momentum and as the EU Directive on Pay Transparency takes root in Ireland, the landscape of the recruitment of finance professionals is poised for transformation. It is a transformation that will lead to more inclusive and equitable practices, benefiting both employees and employers and contributing to the overall economic growth and stability of the country.

Credit: Accountancy Plus

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