In 2023, Ireland introduced legislation for mandatory gender pay gap reporting in the form of the Gender Pay Gap Information Act 2021. It is now the second year where organisations with over 250 employees in Ireland are required to report the data on the median and mean difference in the pay between men and women, as well as provide a breakdown of gender pay - from the lowest to the highest quartiles.

A number of companies in the agri food sector have reported a reduction in their gender pay gap for 2023 compared to 2022, which shows the industry is moving in the right direction. However, significant differences in pay based on gender still exist. One of the main reasons for this is due to the lack of women in senior positions across the sector.

Mean gender pay gap

The difference between the average pay for men and the average pay for women is worked out by adding all hourly pay rates for women and then dividing by the total number of women. This calculation is repeated for men and these averages are then compared.

Median gender pay gap

This is the difference between the middle points in hourly pay for men and women. This is calculated by ordering all the hourly pay rates for each woman and identifying the middle pay rate. This is then repeated for men and compared to the median for women.

Gender pay gap reporting

The gender pay gap is the difference in total hourly pay between male and female employees. The pay gap report is presented through a range of measures, including the difference in median and mean hourly pay of all relevant male and female employees (including male and female employees on temporary contracts).


The mean gender pay gap in Ornua. \ Ciara Mulvany

With a 1% increase, the median gender pay gap in Ornua rose from 29% in 2022 to 30% in 2023. Given that percentages should be going in the other direction, this is disappointing. However, the mean gender pay gap has decreased from 34% in 2022 to 32% in 2023..

The two upper quartiles contain a higher proportion of male employees - 59% in the upper middle quartile and 64% in the upper quartile, respectively - compared to female employers, which shows the difference in salaries between males and females in Ornua. In the report, the primary reason provided for the gender pay gap at Ornua is due to a lack of female representation at senior levels.


The mean gender pay gap in Tirlán. \ Ciara Mulvany

The mean gender pay gap in Tirlán is 14.7%. This demonstrates a 3.8% reduction in their gender pay gap since the last reporting period in 2022, which was then at 18.5%.

This reduction is also reflected in the median pay gap which, at 8.9%, demonstrates a 6.8% reduction on last year’s figure of 15.7%.

In 2023, Tirlán experienced the highest take-up of family leave by male employees in the history of the business.


The mean gender pay gap in Teagasc. \ Ciara Mulvany

In the last year, the mean gender pay gap in Teagasc has reduced from 12% in 2022 to 11% in 2023. The median gender pay gap remains at 18%. It is the seventh consecutive year the mean pay gap has reduced - back in 2017, their pay gap was 17%. This year, for the first time, the Teagasc Authority has seen the gender balance tip in favour of women. We can see a slight reduction in the number of males in the highest pay quartile bracket of 75% in 2023 compared to 77% in 2022 and an increase in the number of women in the same bracket of 25% in 2023 compared to 23% in 2022.


The mean gender pay gap of Diarygold. \ Ciara Mulvany

The gender split of the Dairygold workforce is 69% male to 31% female. This year, Dairygold have reported a mean gender pay gap of 9.8%, which is down from 12.3% in 2022. The median pay gap has also decreased form 13.2% in 2022 to 9.1% in 2023. They have stated it is a step in the right direction with the appointment of more females to senior leadership and management roles.

As there is a higher representation of men in the upper levels, this correlates to higher pay and bonuses thus, contributing to the gender pay gap. Over 70% of roles in the middle upper and the upper quartiles of hourly pay are occupied by males.

Kerry Group

The mean gender pay gap of Kerry Group. \Ciara Mulvany

In the 2023 Gender Pay Gap Report, Kerry Group recognised that male and female representation at the most senior levels of their business in Ireland is a key driver of their gender pay gap. The mean gender pay gap decreased from 6.40% in 2022 to 4.8% in 2023, however the company's median gender pay gap increased from 5.20% in 2022 to 7.1% in 2023.

Performance-related variable pay makes up a higher proportion of remuneration for those at senior levels, where they currently have more male employees. In 2023, the number of females in the highest pay quartile increased from 37.7% in 2022 to 41.2% this year.

Sector analysis

Gillian Harford, county executive at 30% club Ireland.

Over the last year, companies in the agri food sector have focused on improving their gender pay gap through providing support and platforms for women to apply for more senior positions, but a large difference in pay amongst males and females can still be seen from the above 2023 gender pay gap reports.

Some have reported a decrease in their gender pay gaps while others have made significant improvements to their pay difference between male and female employees.

The industry as a whole has traditionally been dominated by males and although we can now see that shift changing to include more gender balance, all companies have highlighted the need for more women in senior positions across organisations.

Gillian Harford, county executive at 30% club Ireland says:

“One year on, the conversation is firmly focused on the under-representation of women in higher-paid roles. Organisations now have metrics to understand where the highest incidences of gender under-representation occur, and drive gender-related pay gaps.

This is encouraging focus on short-term and long-term talent strategies. These include introducing talent attraction policies, returner programmes, job rotation, mentoring and sponsorship programmes. It has also opened the conversation to targets for more balanced representation, both at senior decision-making levels and - across all functions of the business - in line with the ambitions of advocates such as the 30% Club and Balance for Better Business.”

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