Report calls for more action to improve female pipeline in energy industry

Just 5% of executive board seats in the energy industry are currently held by women while 61% of leadership boards have no women present at all, according to a new report.

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The Igniting Change: building the pipeline of female leaders in energy report from PwC and industry body POWERful Women1 (PfW) is calling for a dramatic rise in the number of women entering, staying in and reaching the highest levels of the energy industry, a move it says would improve future decision making, bring fresh perspectives, enhance stakeholder trust and strengthen the UK energy industry in the long term.

It found that, when assessed against the Davies Report target of 25% female board representation by 2015, women account for only 9% of all board seats in the top 100 UK-headquartered energy firms compared to 21% across the wider UK FTSE 1003.

The report lays out a route map which it believes could drive gender diversity across the industry from oil and gas to utilities and nuclear and renewables and help achieve PfW’s target of ensuring females hold 40% of energy company middle management positions and 30% of executive board seats by 2030.

Laura Manson-Smith, PwC energy partner and co-author of the report, said:

“The current statistics on women in the energy industry make depressing reading.

And while it is certainly too simplistic to say it must be a 50/50 split across all sectors, it is abundantly clear that equality doesn’t look like the landscape we’re in now.

It’s time to ignite change if we are to secure a bright future for the UK energy industry in what is an increasingly competitive global marketplace.

“While writing this report we unearthed some great examples of women who have carved out fantastic careers in energy. While these stories are thought-provoking and inspiring, they are not by any means standard or every day.

Much more needs to be done if we are to normalise women’s ambitions for a rewarding career path.

“What is encouraging is that of those men and women surveyed, 91% were clear that they would recommend a career in energy to their daughters.

We hope our report will be a catalyst for change in 2015, helping to create a brighter future for both this and the next generation throughout the energy industry.”

The report is based on research including over 40 interviews, analysis of PwC and Opportunity Now’s Project 28 – 40 energy data and a poll of over 100 PfW Ambassadors.

It says:

  • CEOs and senior leadership teams must lead by example, not only by setting – and delivering on – targets and actively promoting diversity across their organisation but by creating a diverse leadership team and challenging bias.
  • Human Resources should re-examine their talent management, recruitment and reporting processes to ensure they aren’t disadvantaging women and should demand diverse short-lists across the organisation.
  • Women should be more confident and grasp the nettle if they are to achieve their ambitions and inspire the next generation of women.
  • According to the research, 41% of women believed the best career accelerator is seizing the right opportunities and experiences, with 29% advocating the need for a strong network of mentors and contacts.

The report highlights the need to attract a lot more females across the wider energy spectrum from traditionally ‘heavier’ areas such as oil and gas extraction to energy regulation and renewables.

It suggests that in order to boost the number of entrants into the industry, from school leavers and higher education graduates to experienced hires, the industry needs to better understand the full range of opportunities on offer and reposition itself as an important, innovative and exciting workplace for both men and women.

Baroness Verma, co-founder of POWERful Women and Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Department of Energy and Climate Change, said:

“This report comes at an important moment for the country’s energy sector.

As we transform the way we generate and use energy, we must also transform the disparity of representation of women at the top table.

Indeed, a more diverse pool of talent will be crucial to maintaining the UK’s position in the global market and addressing a loss of consumer trust in the sector.

“Igniting Change clearly shows that everyone has a role to play – from CEOs and senior management to HR departments and individuals themselves.

Together, my hope is that we’ll be able to reach POWERFUL Women’s ambition of ensuring that 30% of executive energy company board members and 40% of energy company middle management are female by 2030.”





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