Over 700 US companies have chosen Ireland as their EU gateway and they employ over 155,000 people in a wide range of companies throughout the Republic. Meanwhile over 100,000 people are employed by Irish affiliated companies in the US – reinforcing the principle that the Ireland - US business relationship really is a two way street with a myriad of benefits found on both sides of the Atlantic.
According to Anna Scally, Head of Technology & Media with KPMG in Ireland; “US investment tends to have deep roots in Ireland – many of the major players have been here decades and by definition they are innovative. For example, if one looks back to the nominees for the American Chamber of Commerce Innovation Awards, you’ll see a myriad of cases where R&D is being carried out in a wide range of sectors. These included medtech, telecoms and artificial intelligence to name just a few and they also have a reasonably strong geographic spread around the country. The rationale for this innovation investment happening here in Ireland varies – but common themes include the calibre of people, the cluster effect in various sectors, the tax environment and regulatory and fiscal stability.”
One of the consequences of Ireland’s success in attracting US investment has been the incredible increase in diversity in the workforce across every organisation that has chosen to invest here with significant benefits for both employer and employee. “Inclusive workplaces attract and retain talented people,” says Anna Scally. “Inclusivity is virtuous circle in many respects because good people don’t just want to work for attractive organisations, they also want to work with the diverse, interesting and talented people that make up those organisations.” According to Scally; “Inclusive organisations emerge as a result of leadership - so leaders have to challenge themselves - for example, accepting that unconscious bias does get in the way of an inclusion strategy. The route to an outstanding client and customer experience is through people - the best and most diverse people make a real difference”.
Anna Scally believes that it’s important to value inclusion for all the right reasons. “It makes sense because it’s the right thing to do. It helps focus on attracting and retaining the very best people regardless of gender, orientation, ethnicity and all the other defining characteristics that people may use to filter their perspectives.” Such inclusivity and diversity also has relevance given Irelands appeal as a European base from which to business worldwide. According to Anna Scally, “From an Irish point of view, our diverse workforce is one of the attractions for those who choose to do business here. If you are serving your worldwide business from Ireland, the diversity of our people mirrors much of the reality of the global marketplace and that’s a big plus for Ireland.”
One of the other fundamental benefits of US investment in Ireland has been the transformation of the economy with technology very much at the core of so much business activity. With such large numbers employed in the MNC sector, it’s not surprising that career paths have changed and the skill sets required have transformed over the past few decades.
According to Paul Vance, Head of Resourcing at KPMG in Ireland, “Technology has become a big focal point for recruiters. In many cases it’s a lot more than being just tech savvy – increasingly candidates need to have experience of how tech is impacting on the board agenda and how its impacting on business overall. We see this in our own hiring requirements and naturally we see it in our clients’ business. The critical point is that it’s impacting every area and not just the tech sector. Interestingly, and despite the talk of technology impacting negatively on jobs, our own CEO research indicates that many business leaders see areas such as artificial intelligence for example creating more jobs than it destroys.”
An abridged version of this interview originally appeared in The Irish Times and is reproduced with their kind permission.