How much influence does one event have on another? Some, none, a bit? In truth, it depends completely on the given scenario. Denis Hurley in sport this week is alluding to how a league performance is not an indicator of what can happen in the Championship. He uses a Latin phrase I had not heard before ‘post hoc ergo propter hoc’ which translates to - just because something happens after something else, it does not follow that it happened because of the first thing. I absolutely accept that in most instances correlation does not imply causation. For example – there is a 95% correlation between per capita cheese consumption in the USA and the number of people who died by becoming tangled in their bedsheets and I am not buying into that! Nonetheless, sometimes momentum does build which can drive a positive swell or a negative spiral.
The ink was barely dry on my recent editorial about New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern resigning when Scottish First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, also chose to vacate her position. Then last week, it was the leaders of the Social Democrats, Catherine Murphy and Róisín Shortall, who hit the headlines announcing that they would step back from their party’s leadership. Like Sturgeon, they cited ‘timing’ for their decision, which was that “now” – is the appropriate time for succession in their party. They are not leaving politics but allowing the leadership of the party to move to the next generation.
Succession is something we talk about in relation to agriculture all the time because it has proven problematic and difficult for a myriad of reasons on farms. Teagasc research shows that “succession gives the incentive to expand or change the farm and it also provides the resources, labour and skills to carry the plan through”. Suffice to say it would be hard for me to take an opposing view when it comes to politics. In fact, political research shows that smooth succession can increase performance, legitimacy and stability. The words might be different but the benefits are interchangeable – a well-managed succession plan yields the best outcomes for organisations. For the Social Democrats, another woman was waiting in the wings to take up the baton, Cork TD Holly Cairns. Incidentally and entirely by coincidence, Holly’s mother Madeline McKeever was chosen as one of our International Women’s Day “unsung heroines”.
Ardern was replaced with a man, Sturgeon’s successor is not yet known and Holly’s ascension, although still a female leader, in plain numbers, it is still two becomes one. This corresponds (just an observation, not a correlation) with the most recent “Women in the Workplace” report from LeanIn and McKinsey which states that for every woman stepping into a director-level leadership role, two are choosing to leave. This pattern, the group believes, has the potential to unwind the progress made towards better gender equity and increased female leadership in the workplace. With so few female leaders globally, women stepping back, in politics, business, or farming, is a negative development. In many cases, there have not been enough women able to ascend to be in a position to replace them. The reasons are this lack of female representation at senior levels are well-known but not yet solved.
Therefore the importance of International Women’s Day (March 8), which is a momentum-building campaign, remains. This year’s theme is #EmbraceEquity. That means moving on from equality where everyone gets the same opportunities to equity where everyone gets the opportunities needed to reach an equal outcome.