Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Questions (60)

Joan Burton


60. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his policy on gender and pay issues; the number of civil and public servants; the number of men and women, respectively; the average pay of men and women, respectively; his plans for achieving gender pay parity; and the timeframe for same [49204/18]

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Oral answers (8 contributions) (Question to Public)

I wish to ask the Minister about his policy on gender and pay issues. What is the number of male and female civil and public servants, respectively? What is the average pay of a man and a woman working in the service? What plans does he have for achieving gender pay parity, and what is the timeframe for doing it? Will he accept the Labour Party Bill which will come before the Dáil tomorrow and which provides for at least gender pay information in order that we can see what the differences are and address those differences?

We have made significant progress on gender equality in the Civil Service, which is my area of direct responsibility. The overall number of civil servants at the end of the third quarter of 2018 was 38,736, of whom 21,954 were female and 16,782 were male.

I have provided a breakdown by grade within the Civil Service for the Deputy. The proportion of females at the levels of Secretary General, assistant secretary, principal officer, assistant principal, higher executive officer and clerical officer is 21%, 35%, 43%, 50%, 57% and 72%, respectively. In my written answer to the Deputy's question, I have laid out the figures in tabular format over the past six years in order that she can compare them.

We have made progress. At principal officer level, for example, we have moved from 34% of all principal officers being female in 2012 to a figure of 43%. At assistant principal level, the figure is 50%, while at assistant secretary level we have moved from 23% in 2012 to 35%. I am committed to building on this, however, and the Civil Service board, which comprises Secretaries General in all Departments, has instructed all Departments to take a number of actions, including training for management boards, better development supports particularly in the area of mentoring, gender balance as a stated business priority, leadership training courses to encompass gender focused knowledge and support, and assigning responsibility for gender and diversity to a specific member of the management board of every Department. While we have made progress, we need to make more.


Grade (Female)

End August 2018

End August 2015

End August 2012

Sec Gen

6 (21%)

6 (20%)

7 (23%)

Second Sec

1 (25%)

1 (25%)

2 (40%)

Dep Sec

4 (24%)

4 (22%)

5 (36%)


82 (35%)

67 (31%)

49 (23%)


632 (43%)

469 (37%)

394 (34%)

Assistant Principal

2,182 (50%)

1,666 (46%)

1,432 (42%)


2,953 (57%)

2,589 (57%)

2,522 (55%)


1,161 (47%)

996 (47%)

852 (45%)


5,120 (62%)

3,764 (61%)

3,760 (61%)


8,210 (72%)

8,464 (76%)

8,617 (76%)

Figures from HR Databank on 19 November, 2018

The critical statistics say it all. At the top echelon of the Civil Service, that is, the Secretary General level or equivalent in a Department, only 21% of the positions are held by women. The Minister probably knows off the top of his head what a Secretary General earns, but it is as low as approximately €150,000 for small Departments, rising to more than €200,000 in the case of large Departments, which have greater responsibilities. The Minister has previously agreed with me that it is notable that there are relatively few women at the top levels of the Department of Finance compared with the lower levels such as clerical officers. The figure which the Minister provided for female clerical officers was 72%, while 57% of higher executive officers are women.

This is what the gender pay gap means. There are not many women at the upper echelons and yet there are so many women at the lower pay levels that the gender pay gap in the public service is wide and probably at least 14%, which is the general figure given for Ireland, or even higher.

A reform programme that will value the work of women and men equally needs to be implemented quickly.

I take the Deputy's point. We can point to progress but I am equally clear that we must make more progress. I am encouraged that, whether it is the Department of Finance or of Public Expenditure and Reform, I can see the changes to which I referred happening at assistant principal or principal officer level. At budget time in the Revenue Commissioners, for example, I could see how young and diverse they have become at middle to upper management levels. My aim is that this balance will be reflected in the leadership teams of our key institutions in future months and years. That is why it is important that the management board of each of these institutions has specific action steps in this area. As the Deputy continues to raise this matter with me over time, I hope I will be able to point to the steady progress we are making at that level.

I hope the Minister and the Government will support the gender pay Bill, which will be before the House tomorrow. It was introduced in the Seanad by my colleague, Senator Ivana Bacik. That would begin to force institutions and private sector businesses to publish data on the pay gap in order that people can become aware of it and begin to address it.

The top management board the country is the Cabinet. A few years ago, there were two female Tánaistí in succession. There were more women at the Cabinet table, including a female Attorney General; we had a female Chief Justice and Garda Commissioner and there were several women in other high-level posts. This Administration has fewer women. There is also cult of exceptionalism. There are women who get to the top for a period but are then replaced by men so that women’s participation is variable and apparent gains can fall away. I want the Government to commit to an equality-based Cabinet. Any of the women who sit in Leinster House, regardless of party, are just as capable as any of the men.

I accept the Deputy's point about the need for diversity at political and senior business levels in Ireland. However, I wish that the appreciation for the role played by then-Tánaiste, Deputy Frances Fitzgerald, had been more evident during the period when many people were calling for her to go. It would have been nice to hear the kind of appreciation for diversity offered by the Deputy during that period when many people demanded that the former Tánaiste step down, which ultimately she did to keep the Government in place at a time of great national challenge.

The Taoiseach should not have accepted it.

Deputy Burton may be aware that gender equality and the gender pay gap in Ireland have been examined by the European Commission, particularly in 2014 when it compared our figures with those of the EU 27. We then stood at a 13.9% pay gap compared with the EU 27 average of 16.7%. It is no comfort that we were lower than the EU average. It is a pay gap that should be got rid of and the contribution I hope to make through my role is for diversity at lower, middle and upper-management level in Departments to flow all the way up. I am particularly pleased that earlier I could notify Cabinet of the appointment of Ms Maeve Carton of the new chair of the National Treasury Management Agency.