Gender pay gap at Port of Cork hits 23% amid ‘imbalance’ of men and women staff

Just 11% of the maritime hub’s employees are women due to ‘male dominance’ of sector

An imbalance in the number of men and women working in the Port of Cork has been blamed for a gender pay gap of 23 per cent at the company behind the shipping hub.

Just 11 per cent of the port’s workers are women, the State-owned Port of Cork Company said in a statement accompanying its first gender pay gap report on Tuesday. There is also a “predominance” of men in senior management positions and therefore on “higher pay scales”.

The 23 per cent mean hourly gender pay gap – which compares the pay of all men and women rather than just those in similar jobs with comparable experience and qualifications – is due to a need for “more female representation” in senior roles.

Despite being well above the national mean gender pay gap of 12 per cent, the figures are consistent with other male-dominated industries such as construction, the company said.

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The port, which saw an additional 60,000 ferry passengers pass through last year compared to 2022, said it released the gender pay figures voluntarily to highlight the importance of enhancing the representation of women at all levels of the business.

The Port of Cork Company released its first diversity and inclusion policy statement last year, committing it to making the work environment more inclusive. It also recently hired its first female operators, Samantha O’Connor and Sarah O’Sullivan, who work as straddle carrier drivers on the site.

“With 11 per cent of our workforce being female, and nearly half of them occupying positions in the lower-pay quartile, our gender pay gap naturally reflects an imbalance,” said Sinead Healy, human resources manager at Port of Cork Company.

“While our figures may appear higher compared to the national average, they align with other industries predominantly comprised of male personnel, such as finance, banking/insurance, and construction. Acknowledging this gap is key to reducing it and creating positive change.”

More than 550 large employers were obliged to publish gender pay gap reports in 2023, the second year in which they were required to do so under new legislation introduced in 2021. Companies with more than 150 employees are also obliged to submit gender pay gap reports for the first time by the end of 2024.

PwC Ireland analysis of the gender pay reports submitted by companies employing more than 250 people last year revealed the national gap between what women and men are paid on an hourly basis declined marginally last year. Published in March, the research revealed the largest discrepancies existed in the legal profession and the aviation sector.

Ian Curran

Ian Curran

Ian Curran is a Business reporter with The Irish Times