“Lack of progress in gender diversity at senior levels of regulated firms is disappointing with much more needed to be done” - Ed Sibley, Deputy Governor, Prudential Regulation

08 March 2021 Press Release

Ed Sibley

  • The Central Bank’s Demographic Analysis Report 2020 shows continued risks arising from the low levels of gender diversity in senior roles in financial services firms. The lack of progress in improving gender diversity is indicative of similar issues with other aspects of diversity and inclusion.
  • More needs to be done to increase the diversity of experience, thought, background and attributes at senior levels to improve decision-making and risk management in regulated firms in Ireland.
  • As diversity is interconnected with risk, resilience and financial performance in firms, the Central Bank will continue to prioritise driving improvements in diversity and inclusion in firms through its supervisory activities

Today, the Central Bank of Ireland published a Demographic Analysis Report of over 3,600 applications for approval to occupy senior roles within regulated firms in Ireland, received under the Fitness and Probity regime in 2020. This is the fifth annual Demographic Analysis that the Central Bank has published as part of its continued focus on diversity and inclusion in regulated firms. The report breaks down the applications for regulatory approval by gender, age and tenure.

Key developments outlined in the 2020 report include:

  • Progress remains slow in terms of improvements in the levels of gender diversity in applications. From a low base, female representation in applications for pre-approved control functions (PCF) roles across the financial services sector has continued to increase since 2012, the first year that data is available. Approximately one in six applications received in 2012 were for women, compared to just over one in four in 2020, although there is little overall change in 2020 relative to 2019.
  • Within the largest (“high”) impact regulated firms, men hold 85% of current PCF positions in the asset management sector, 78% in the banking sector and 74% in the insurance sector.
  • There continues to be a pronounced gender imbalance at board level across all sectors. Female applications for these positions fell by 2 percentage points from 24% in 2019 to 22% in 2020.
  • In 2020, less than one sixth of applicants for roles were the holders are responsible for driving strategy and / or business revenue were female.
  • The number of applications fell by nearly one fifth compared to 2019, due to the reduction in Brexit related applications;

Ed Sibley, Deputy Governor at the Central Bank said: 

"It is disappointing to see that progress is so slow and has, in some respects, stalled in 2020.

"A lack of diversity at senior management and board level is a leading indicator of heightened behaviour, culture and governance risks. As diversity is so interconnected with risk, resilience and financial performance, it will continue to be a priority for the Central Bank.

"Improving diversity and inclusion in order to reduce the likelihood of groupthink, improve decision-making and manage risks is even more important as we strive to deal with the complex and unequal effects of the pandemic. It is in times of change and uncertainty when qualities such as resilience and innovative thinking are essential, and the value of diversity of background, thought and experience are all the more important.

"Leadership is required across the financial sector to improve and drive forward diversity and inclusion, and address the underlying causes. We will continue to require improvements in this area; undertake detailed and thematic reviews; and publish research and information on the issues and progress (or lack thereof) in improving diversity and inclusion in regulated firms, including through this annual publication.”


This is the fifth time that the Central Bank has published such data. These reports and further information on the Central Bank’s work on diversity in regulated firms is available on the Central Bank's website.

“Application" or "Applicant" refers to applications to the Central Bank for pre-approval of individuals seeking to hold senior level roles in regulated firms. It is not a reference to the number of applications financial firms received for roles.

There are 53 Pre-Approval Controlled Functions, covering both board and management level appointments. With three roles introduced into the F&P regime in 2020: PCF-49 Chief Information Officer, PCF-50 Head of Material Business Line and PCF-51 Head of Market Risk.

The Central Bank published the outcome of a thematic review of the approach to diversity and inclusion in the Insurance sector in 2020