The Level Project is an Enterprise Ireland initiative designed to support companies to develop and implement a strategy including a practical Action Plan, that will help them to improve gender balance in their Senior Leadership Teams and on their Boards.

A key component of The Level Project is the online action planning toolkit, which is available for free to all companies and businesses in Ireland.

By completing the online toolkit you will develop an Action Plan tailored to the specific needs and challenges of your company.

There are six sections (Themes) in the toolkit (Strategy, Attract, Retain, Develop, Engage, Measure), each of which is divided into two levels according to how advanced you are (Level 1: Assess and Address, Level 2: Embed).

For each Theme you will be presented with a series of Questions, if you answer 'No' to a question, you will be presented with suggested Actions you can take. It is up to you to select the ones you want to include.

You can choose to go through all six themes, or you can choose to only focus on one or two. We would suggest that most companies should include the section on Strategy.

Each theme also includes links to helpful resources such as How To guides, templates and expert insights.

When you have finished going through the Questions, you can download an editable Action Plan for your company. It will include all the Actions you selected, and will have blank spaces where you can input further details, for example, who is going to be responsible, what timeline you want to put on completing the action, what resources you are going to allocate to it and how you are going to measure progress.

There are 6 Themes in the Toolkit and each Theme is divided into 2 categories; Level 1: Assess & Address and Level 2: Embed. Where you choose to start depends on how much you have already put in place under each theme.

Assess & Address: Start here if you are doing this for the first time, or if to date you have only taken a few actions under that particular theme.

Embed: Start here if you have already assessed and put in place actions in the theme covered. The proposed Actions in Embed assume an existing base of activity that you wish to build upon to aim towards industry leadership.

Which Themes to start with

There are 6 themes: Strategy, Measure, Attract, Retain, Engage, Develop.

Strategy - it is suggested that you should commence with this theme, unless you already have a gender balance strategy in place.

Measure - this theme will need to be used in conjunction with the other themes including Strategy to help you understand what baseline data you need in order to measure progress

Attract, Retain, Engage, Develop - these themes provide more in-depth ideas on actions you can take to address specific challenges - be those around recruiting (Attract), retaining employees (Retain), engaging the support of everyone in the organization for the aims of your strategy (Engage) or developing employees to ensure you have a pipeline of future managers (Develop).

A key Objective of Enterprise Ireland's Action Plan for Women in Business is to increase the number of women in middle and senior management and leadership roles including Boards in Irish companies.

In order to achieve this objective, Enterprise Ireland has launched The Level Project - an initiative designed to support companies to develop and implement a strategy including a practical Action Plan, that will help them to improve gender balance in their Senior Leadership Teams and on their Boards.

Achieving gender equality is important in enterprise not only because it is 'fair' and 'the right thing to do,' but because it is also linked to a country's overall economic performance.

In addition to the significant potential impact on the Irish economy, Enterprise Ireland is committed to increasing the number of women in senior leadership and decision-making roles in Irish companies because of compelling evidence that doing so leads to better businesses.

Aligning with the EI Action Plan for Women in business we believe that focusing this toolkit on gender balance will also have the impact of enhancing the overall approach by organisations to diversity and inclusion. Women represent 51% of the population in Ireland and as such gender balance can be a good place for companies to get started on with their Diversity & Inclusion journey. There are challenges which are specific to women in the workplace and a focus on those issues is incorporated here. Working through the topics in the toolkit will also provide organisations the opportunity to employ a broader diversity and inclusion lens when committing to actions.

Enhancing the gender balance of your senior team can help your company to build strong leadership, attract talent and improve performance.

Gender balance in senior positions benefits business:

  • Attract and retain talent
  • Creativity & innovation
  • Understand the customer
  • Company reputation
  • Profitability
  • Return on Investment

Companies should be aiming to achieve:

  • Balance in numbers i.e. 40/60
  • Balance in expertise & functions
  • Balance in engagement i.e. Inclusion

Building gender balance is a twenty-first century management and leadership skill. It requires leaders who have a strategic understanding of the considerable economic benefits that lie, untapped, in the female population--in their roles both as customers and as talent--and the competencies needed to work across genders. It's about tapping into 100% of the talent pool and connecting with 100% of the market--both male and female.

The first step for a company is to develop a clear strategy which will set out why they are doing it, their ultimate aim and how they are going to achieve it.

The Level Project action planning toolkit has been designed to help companies to do this, whether they are just thinking about this for the first time, or have already been taking action but want to take it to the next level.

Enterprise Ireland provides supports* that can help companies to develop and implement their Gender Balance Action Plan, including:

*Eligibility criteria applies