Norah Casey breathes fire on to women’s ambitions
Magazine publisher says news media has been slow to wake up to female audience
Broadcaster and businesswoman Norah Casey, who is organising the inaugural Irish Tatler Business Academy at the Convention Centre Dublin. Photograph: PhotoFest Ireland
Former Dragons’ Den panellist Norah Casey is now investing her time in women – next on the Harmonia chief executive’s agenda is the inaugural Irish Tatler Business Academy at the Convention Centre Dublin.
The one-day conference on May 2nd features an all-woman line-up of speakers and workshop panellists including the head of PayPal in Ireland, Louise Phelan, casting director Ros Hubbard, master of National Maternity Hospital Dr Rhona Mahony and Casey herself.
“I’m trying to eke out of the speakers what was the pivotal moment – what was it that made them the leader, not the person on the second or third rung,” says Casey, who recently completed her RTÉ filming commitments on the first series of The Takeover and the first run of Today .
She is certain there is a need for events such as this. Her experience on Dragons’ Den was that women who entered it with business ideas had usually done their homework but lacked confidence.
“I would often be one of only two or three women at a business event and it’s quite daunting, even for me,” she says. On the women-in-business circuit, the same women tend to be held up as role models again and again. “It’s not that I’m brilliant, it’s more that there are so few of us.”
For the past two years, the Harmonia women’s monthly Irish Tatler has given free ad space to women who start their own business. “We do six to nine every month,” she says.
The Irish Tatler directory of influential businesswomen, first compiled two years ago, has grown to encompass a list of 1,000 and was recently published as a special business edition of the magazine featuring Casey on the cover, Oprah-style.
Casey says she hates the phrases “glass ceiling” (“I don’t know who invented it”) and “work-life balance” (“I don’t know what it means, this idea that you would go into work and you’re not living your life”).
She advocates the importance to healthy businesses of having a critical mass of women in the workplace – often referred to as the 30 per cent rule. “Politically and business wise, we’re nowhere near that.”
News media, too, is a male world. “We have a lot of women in the media, but not in news and current affairs,” says Casey, who co-presents Newstalk Breakfast from Monday to Friday.
“I think media owners and executives have been slow to wake up to the need to cater for 50 per cent of their customers, and when they do it’s about fashion and beauty and food.”