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Flexibility and role models key for women at work


‘PEOPLE HAVE TO WANT IT’Claremorris native Louise Foody.

Ciara Galvin

WOMEN need to ‘fearlessly say yes’ when a career opportunity comes around, but also need to be encouraged. That was the resounding message from Louise Foody, who was voted as one of Ireland’s most powerful women last year.
The Claremorris native has been working in the construction sector since she graduated from college and is now Director of Digital and Brand with Kingspan and also Board Director of Invicara Software Company.
Daughter of Seán and Mary, Louise was named as one of the top most powerful women in Ireland for 2017 by WXN (Women’s Executive Network) and has been guest speaker for GMIT’s iHub Empower Growth programme.
Ahead of International Women’s Day this Thursday, Louise gave her thoughts on women in business, what has been done to help women in work, and what can be done in future to keep women in the workforce.  
Speaking to The Mayo News Louise says she has received nothing but encouragement since joining Kingspan in 2005 and can’t stress how important it is.
“I never felt any different to my male peers, if anything I may have received more encouragement as I climbed the ranks,” she explains.  
Louise highlights that by their very nature, many sectors are more heavily represented by one gender than the other, and says it’s not surprising that there is a lack of diversity in the construction industry, when compared with other sectors.
However, Louise believes that senior roles for women exist in every industry and says she is proof of that.
“People have to want it, but they clearly need to be encouraged. I wouldn’t be in to quotas, you do have to be good enough for the job,” says the straight talking Michael Smurfit School of Business graduate.
“I’ve never felt any different to the guys. I’m probably the only female at my level but it’s not the business not wanting women. Women need encouragement.”

Asked about measures being put in place to aid women in both raising a family and having a successful career, Louise says flexibility is needed in the workplace.
“At a higher level it’s about getting the job done and not just being behind a desk from 9 to 5. It [flexibility] would help massively. I see that more and more. Technology is helping that massively, but it does depend on the role.”
Since climbing the corporate ladder, Louise acknowledges that improvements have happened in relation to women at work and being encouraged to succeed, but admits that the situation is still behind ‘where it could be’.
“Role models are another thing, if women see people like themselves in roles that will be a help.”
Asked if International Women’s Day is still necessary or if we will get to a stage where women will not need their own day, in the name of equality, Louise said ‘we are a long time off that’ and that recognising women and their efforts is still very important.
Ms Foody said though women may think ‘why is there a need for women in business awards, etc’, to be recognised is fantastic.
“The acknowledgement was fantastic, and my male colleagues were really proud of me and would love to see more of that … I do truly believe that it is our responsibility as women, to fearlessly say yes, when a career opportunity comes our way, even if we don’t have the blueprint for what that opportunity might look like.”
She added that her hope for women going forward is to see industries, including the construction industry as one which welcomes their ‘talents, values their abilities and offers them the chance to grow as individuals, regardless of their gender’.

Funded by the Department of Justice and Equality and the European Social Fund, the Empower programme aims to fast track female-led businesses by addressing specific challenges hindering their development