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Latest Permanent TSB research shows significant increase in optimism levels, but Cost of Living is now top issue of concern for the public 

Deep dive on attitudes on gender equality ahead of International Women’s Day shows strong support amongst women for quotas in politics and senior management and almost 3 in every 4 women believe they have to work harder to achieve the same success as a man at work

Permanent TSB has published the latest edition of its Reflecting Ireland research series.  The series polls public attitudes each quarter and includes recurring questions about how people see their personal financial situation and their views on the outlook for the economy and country as well as a more detailed survey of different topics.  For the current survey Permanent TSB has explored attitudes towards gender equality ahead of International Women’s Day on March 8th next.  The research was conducted by Kantar in January 2022 amongst a representative sample of 1,001 people aged 18+.

Positive attitudes to personal circumstances and economic outlook

Looking at the recurring questions on attitudes to the economy and their own personal circumstances, key findings include:

  • A significant rise in levels of optimism amongst Irish adults. 60% of adults described themselves as being “upbeat” compared to just 50% who used that term in the last Reflecting Ireland report. (November). 
  • 33% of all respondents said they believed they would be better off this time next year (November – 28%). That optimism is higher amongst younger people with 59% aged 18 – 24 agreeing with that statement and 53% of those aged 25 – 34.
  • 39% of respondents said that they saw “green shoots” emerging in the economy. That compares to 32% who felt that way in November last. The 29% of respondents expressing concern on this issue is the lowest figure for this question since 2018.
  • 51% of respondents said that they felt the country is moving “in the right direction”. This is the highest figure making that statement since 2018.  The view that the country is going “in the wrong direction” is shared by just 33% - down from 42% in November last.
  • On which issues are of concern, the list is led by Cost of Living (62%), Price of Housing (47%), Access to Quality Healthcare (46%), Homelessness (40%) and Rising Rents (35%). Reflecting the reopening of recent weeks, Covid was identified by just 23% as being an issue of top concern.

Speaking on the findings on attitudes to the economy and personal finances, Leontia Fannin, Head of Corporate Affairs at Permanent TSB, said; “while the cost-of-living issue is becoming a significant concern, these findings do show that people are quite optimistic about their personal circumstances and the outlook for the coming year.  Clearly the reopening of the economy post Covid is feeding through to personal optimism and positivity.”

Attitudes to Gender:

With International Women’s Day coming up (March 8th) the research this quarter does a deep dive on attitudes to gender equality amongst both men and women.

The survey shows a major divergence between men and women in perceptions of equality in the workplace, with key findings on this issue including:

  • 72% of women say they have to work harder than men to get the same level of career progression – but only 46% of men agree
  • 74% of women say the gender pay gap is yet to be resolved – but only 49%of men do
  • 50% of women want gender quotas for senior management roles but only 33% of men think this is desirable
  • 25% of men feel gender equality is already well developed in Ireland – a view shared by only 15% of women

On a more positive note, both male and female respondents agree that Ireland has made great strides in terms of equality over the past decade: over 60% agree

And on advertising and body image, two findings stand out.

  • Women are less inclined to feel that females are portrayed positively in advertising – just 36% of women agree whereas 49% of males believe that women are portrayed positively
  • 76% of women believe that women get a raw deal on body image in society generally whereas just 46% of men agree that this is the case.

Speaking on the findings on gender, Claire Cogan, a behavioural scientist and founder of the consultancy BehaviourWise, said; “overall the findings on gender are encouraging with important alignment between the sexes on the progress that has been made to date and the fact that it is the shared responsibility of both sexes to achieve equality.  However, the research does show up continuing points of difference including in respect of gender quotas and the sharing out of tasks within the home and within the work environment.  It also appears that the pandemic may have led to more women taking on more of the unpaid household work and caring duties than men. Finally, it is clear that female role models are a significant source of inspiration for women.  67% of women agreed that successful women in the public eye inspire them.”

Karen Hackett, Head of People Experience at Permanent TSB, said; “whilst both genders acknowledge the great strides in terms of equality, it is striking that the findings of our research suggest men are more likely to feel that more has been done to achieve gender equality in the workplace, while women are less satisfied with progress to date. Despite the success of a range of initiatives to promote gender equality in recent years, it appears that men are more likely to feel that the task is almost complete, while more women tend to say that many more changes are still needed.”

Ms Hackett added the research shows it is essential to generate greater awareness of initiatives to promote gender equality in the workplace. Among the initiatives supported by Permanent TSB are the 30% Club, a group of approximately 200 Chairs and CEOs who are committed to better gender balance at all levels of their organisations; Triple FS (Females Fast Forward in Financial Services); and Balance for Better Business. Permanent TSB was also one of a number of banks to support the development of the Women in Finance Charter, established by Banking and Payments Federation Ireland. Permanent TSB also has a range of flexible working arrangements to support employees including working from home, compressed working week and job share.

Download the full #ReflectingIreland report here

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