Women in Business Action Plan 2020: Fueling Growth through Diversity


Through four objectives and 24 actions, Enterprise Ireland is responding to the underrepresentation of women entrepreneurs in Ireland. 

The four objectives and their related action are: 

I. Increasing the number of women-led established companies growing internationally.

  1. Drive the women in business action plan in each division of Enterprise Ireland.
  2. Engage with financial institutions to deliver a finance and funding landscape that is accessible and inclusive.
  3. Develop a #GlobalAmbition campaign featuring women in business leaders and initiatives.
  4. Offer increased one-to-one engagement to women-led companies to effectively support growth ambitions and expansion into new global markets
  5. Ensure all Enterprise Ireland programmes and supports are designed to maximise participation by women.
  6. Explore proposals for new finance offers to support scaling for women-led established companies.

II. Increasing the number of women in middle and senior management and leadership roles in Irish companies.

  1. Introduce a new grant for Enterprise Ireland supported companies to facilitate the recruitment of part time senior managers.
  2. Promote the benefits of diversity to enterprise and provide funding support for diversity planning to Enterprise Ireland supported companies,
  3. Work with external stakeholders to influence national policies to address identified barriers to women’s participation in enterprise.
  4. Target women managers in Enterprise Ireland supported companies and within Enterprise Ireland for participation on leadership development programmes.
  5. Work with key stakeholders to facilitate Irish companies to improve gender diversity on their Boards.
  6. Promote a focus on diversity in the development of skills and talent for Irish enterprise through the National Skills Fora and within Enterprise Ireland.

III. Increasing the number of women becoming entrepreneurs.

  1. Partner with key stakeholders to drive better access to finance and funding for women at all stages on their enterprise journey
  2. Collaborate with the Local Enterprise Offices to develop and grow female entrepreneurship in every county.
  3. Ensure enterprise and entrepreneurship policy is aligned with the objectives of the Enterprise Ireland Women in Business plan.
  4. Develop, support and promote a national network of role models to interact with and inspire future entrepreneurs.
  5. Target more women to become founders, mentors and investors.
  6. Promote a focus on women in business in the actions and funding of Regional Enterprise Plans.

IV. Increasing the number of women-led start ups with high growth potential.

  1. Appoint a dedicated team in Enterprise Ireland to develop and drive initiatives directed at female founders.
  2. Issue a series of funding calls targeting women entrepreneurs, and women researchers from third level institutions.
  3. Pilot an initiative to include women leaders / senior managers in project teams spinning out from third level institutions. 
  4. Explore the potential to establish a women-focused seed investment group with key finance industry stakeholders.
  5. Roll out national and regional communications campaigns showcasing women entrepreneurs
  6. Offer increased one-to-one engagement to women-led High Potential Start-Ups (HPSUs), and support female founders through mentoring with experienced entrepreneurs who have scaled their businesses.

Enterprise Ireland, the government organisation responsible for the development and growth of Irish enterprises in world markets.


Enterprise Ireland’s 2025 Ambitions:

  1. Increase the number of women-led companies growing internationally by 100%
  2. 100% increase in participation rate of women on Enterprise Ireland Management Development programmes
  3. 50% increase in women participants on start-up programmes
  4. 50% increase in Local Enterprise Office supports to women in business
  5. Increase the proportion of female founded High Potential Start-Ups to 30%

During the COVID-19 response, the following gender-sensitive practices were implemented:

  • Ensuring that the monitoring and tracking of Covid-19 business support approvals are identifying how many are going to companies defined as female led and/or female founded. 
  • Building awareness in Irish companies of the benefits of gender diversity and support them in attracting more women into employment in senior management positions e.g. through the new Part Time key manager grant.
  • Engaging more women entrepreneurs in online management development and networking.
  • Escalating the promotion of female role models and ensure women who may be considering entrepreneurship .are encouraged and informed.
  • Launching a female specific funding call -conducted online.

Julie Sinnamon CEO, Enterprise Ireland has lent key support in mainstreaming a gender perspective. She has been quoted to say: “Harnessing the full talent and expertise of our diverse population will result in better businesses and faster economic growth. 


In Ireland, women make up more than 50% of the population, but are under-represented across the spectrum of economic activity. In particular:

  • There are three times more men than women starting and growing businesses in Ireland (2018).
  • 30% of senior managers are women. 
  • Less than 20% of CEOs are women, falling to 9% in larger companies.
  • Ireland has the highest gender gap in self-employment in the EU.
  • Less than 10% of VC funding is going to companies with female founders.
  • Only 3% of Angel investors are women


Enterprise Ireland
Enterprise Ireland