On June 7, U.S. Ambassador to Ireland Daniel M. Rooney hosted the annual Embassy conference at Croke Park in Dublin. This year’s theme was “Leveling the Playing Field: Strengthening Ireland’s Competitiveness.”
The conference addressed strategies to enhance competitiveness, using the importance of diversity and opportunity as key drivers to economic stabilization and recovery. An underlying premise was capturing some of the key tenets of the Rooney Rule and applying them more widely to business and society.
In addressing the audience, Ambassador Rooney noted: “It is special to be here in Croke Park to celebrate so much of what is wonderful about Ireland and its culture. This conference began as a way to look at how some of the ideas which are behind the Rooney Rule can be incorporated into other areas – classrooms, businesses, living rooms, the medical field, sports leagues. It has made a huge difference in the National Football League – I know adopting change and new practices can be difficult, but the rewards are significant. I have always believed that to be truly successful everyone needs an equal chance to compete. This is true in business and it is true in sports.”
Also addressing the audience during the keynote session were An Taoiseach Enda Kenny, T.D. and William R. Johnson, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of the H.J. Heinz Company.
The Taoiseach said “Already, the progress that Ireland has made in repairing our damaged economy is well recognised internationally. Step by step, we are bringing our public finances under control through our fiscal consolidation programme. At the same time, my Government has brought a strong and determined focus to the agenda for growth and jobs.”
While Mr. Johnson noted that "Ireland continues to be an attractive place to do business, and many other global companies have discovered this by establishing factories and operations in the country," he said. "It's a leader in foreign investment per capita for many reasons, most noticeably the availability of skilled labour, the productivity of the Irish workforce, and your success in stimulating business investment over the years, through legislation and attractive corporate tax rates."
Other participants in the conference included Minister for Education and Skills Ruairi Quinn, T.D.; Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton, T.D.; Norah Casey, CEO of Harmonia; Mark Waller, Chief Marketing Officer with the NFL; Eamon Dunphy, Broadcaster & Journalist; Cathriona Hallahan, Managing Director Microsoft EOC, Microsoft Ireland; and James Mailley, Monster.com Sales Director.