International Women's Day

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28 February 2024

To celebrate International Women’s Day, we had a conversation with our CEO Mary Rose Burke about her leadership of Dublin Chamber. Dublin Chamber plays an important role in amplifying female voices and lobbying for greater diversity and inclusion in the workplace. We are dedicated to platforming the voices of female leaders, learning from their experiences, and collectively working towards a more inclusive future.

Can you share your journey to becoming CEO of Dublin Chamber?

I began my journey as pharmacist and set-up and managed my own business, subsequently worked in the HSEI joined Boots as Director of Pharmacy in 2005 and started to develop my passion for shaping public policy which led me to move to to Ibec as Director of Corporate, Strategic and International Affairs eight years later.  I was delighted to join Dublin Chamber as CEO in 2016 to lead the organisation through what has been a period of great change for business and the city. My journey has given me a wide range of experience and valuable insights from managing small businesses, learning how to succeed in a multinational organisation, and lobbying for positive change in an influential business association.

What do you enjoy about your role?

Dublin Chamber is a business membership organisation that lobbies sustainably economic vitality for a better quality of life for the people that live, visit, do business and study in our fantastic city. We speak to our members about their issues and concerns and then lobby local and national government to make positive change. It’s a privilege to be a leader for positive change in our capital city and to speak on behalf of and represent our member companies.

I really enjoy meeting our members at our events and being part of such a valuable business community. Meeting people face to face and building productive relationships is the key to business success. Dublin Chamber hosts over one hundred events each year. They range from our large Annual Dinner to monthly networking events and thought leadership briefings on a range of topics including AI, D&I, cyber security, sustainability and access to finance. As we represent business from all sectors and of all sizes, it is great to meet with and speak to such a diverse group of people.

How does Dublin Chamber support women in leadership?

Dublin Chamber is an active supporter of the Sustainable Development Goals and has supported gender equality in the workplace for many years. We launched our International Women’s Day celebration fifteen years ago. The numbers of guests that attend grows each year and we have over two hundred attendees at our upcoming event on the 7th March. The event is a real celebration of women in business and the guests are a mix of female entrepreneurs and women working in corporate organisations.

We also host a number of Women Empower events throughout the year, which provide a forum for people to discuss the issues facing women in leadership today. Key topics that we regularly cover include retaining and developing female talent, encouraging female participation at management level, building diverse teams, and fostering inclusivity.

What issues are Dublin Chamber lobbying on that affect women?

Our recent Business Outlook survey highlighted that several factors, particularly childcare expenses and the lack of affordable housing, as prominent issues that are driving current labour shortages. There's a clear need for strategies to enhance labour force participation, especially among women, by eliminating the barriers to workforce re-entry such as the punitive rate of marginal income tax for second earners and the continued reduction of childcare expenses.

What other female leaders have you worked with?

Dublin Chamber elected its first female president, the founder of Wilson Hartnell PR, Mary Finan in 1996. Since then, we have had a number of notable female president’s including Aine Maria Mizzoni, Margaret Sweeney, Ires Reit and Imelda Reynolds, Beauchamps Solicitors. I have had the opportunity to work with Anne O’Leary, Meta and Catherine Moroney the Former Head of Business Banking Market, AIB I am looking forward to working with Siobhan O’Shea, Indeed when she takes over as President for 2024.

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