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Record high of more than 60,000 Irish people heading up British businesses

Mars UK boss Fiona Dawson with Queen Elizabeth II in the Mars factory, pictured in 2013. (Picture: Getty Images)
Mars Food boss Fiona Dawson with Queen Elizabeth II in the Mars factory, pictured in 2013. (Picture: Getty Images)

THE NUMBER of Irish-born directors of British businesses is at a record high of 60,000, a report has shown.

The Foreign Directors Report, commissioned by communications firm Eulogy, shows a 13 per cent increase in the number of Irish directors in British companies in the past 12 months.

The news means Irish directors remain the largest group of non-British directors of firms, outstripping nearest rivals Germany by 10,000.

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One of the key drivers is the precedent of Irish workers succeeding overseas, a leading Irish businesswoman says.

“I think we are confident about our pursuits abroad which is down to a long history of Irish success stories away from home,” said Dublin-born Fiona Dawson, global president of Mars Food.

Overall, Irish directors head up some 16,907 businesses nationwide – 10 per cent of Britain’s businesses.

The 2016 figure is continuing a trend which has seen an annual increase in the number of Irish directors since 2012.

The total figure in those five years is up 35 per cent to 60,892 to 45,384.

There was further good news for Irish women, with the Foreign Directors Report also revealing one in three Irish directors in British firms are female.

This figure is higher than any other nationality in the country, including British-born directors.

Ms Dawson is one of just under 18,000 Irish women heading up board rooms around Britain.

She credits having a prominent female figure in Ireland with boosting her confidence.

“Ireland’s influence really does punch above its weight and I was very lucky to have a very strong role model in Mary Robinson growing up,” she said.

“As a result, I think we have a confidence in our ability to influence and a strong sense of what is right.”

Adrian Brady, CEO of Eulogy PR, said: “Year after year, Irish nationals emerge as the largest community of overseas directors in the UK and we continue to see the positive impact their presence has on the UK and its economy.

The tremendous 17 per cent growth in Irish women on UK boards sets a strong example as gender diversity remains firmly at the top of the agenda for businesses in Britain.”

Ireland outperformed its counterparts from all over the world in British director positions.

Germany came second on the list, trailing some 10,000 behind Ireland, while US-born directors number 49,717.

India and Poland rounded off the top five.

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James Mulhall
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James Mulhall is a reporter with The Irish Post. Follow him on Twitter @JamzMulhall

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