Leaders from across the energy sector will today (Thursday 29 June) meet in central London to progress crucial work on making sure the energy sector is inclusive and represented by a diverse workforce.
The event will be marked by a joint declaration from the organisations hosting the conference to redouble their efforts towards improving equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI), as new research reveals the improved business benefits that a focus on EDI can unlock.
The energy industry’s annual EDI conference, hosted by ENA, Energy UK and Ofgem and sponsored by Murray McIntosh, will bring together attendees including CEOs and EDI specialists, from organisations across the energy sector.
In recognition of the lack of diversity within the sector, which employs over 730,000 people across generation, networks and retail, coordinated cross-industry action is now taking place to improve this so that the industry better represents the people it provides energy for.
A dedicated taskforce – TIDE (Tackling Inclusion and Diversity in Energy) – has been working to combine cross-sector EDI insights and evidence, building on experience and expertise to support industry-wide changes.
TIDE has been focussing on three priority areas; insight gathering, sharing best practice and engaging with leaders.
At today’s conference, the CEOs of Energy UK, ENA and Ofgem will, for the first time, make a public commitment on the individual actions they will take to improve EDI across industry, leading by example in the hope other leaders will sign up.
Emma Pinchbeck, CEO Energy UK, said:
“EDI is business critical, not something leaders can ignore or keep on the sidelines. We’ve seen the impact poor culture and processes can have on organisations this year; companies that don’t bother to understand the importance of a decent workplace culture and representation are putting themselves at risk in the same way they would be if they didn’t pay attention to their bottom line. Conversely, businesses that are more diverse and inclusive have been shown to be more productive and profitable.
“The energy sector serves everyone and will be responsible for an energy transition that will impact all of us; our work will be easier if our workforce and decision makers are properly representative and understanding of society. We need a gear change in the way we recruit and support people from all backgrounds, and we need to make sure our industry is a safe, inclusive, exciting place to work. The work of TIDE should help to build a better, diverse, inclusive culture in energy – but this will also take honest conversations and commitment from leaders across the industry.”
Lawrence Slade, Energy Networks Association, CEO said:
“Any effective leader knows that to get the most out of your people, they need to be happy and confident in being their authentic selves. Focusing on EDI isn’t just the right thing to do – as today’s research shows, it can have a real positive impact on the effectiveness of your business. I’m proud to be making today’s Commitment to improve ENA’s focus on EDI and supporting the renewed focus on EDI across the energy sector.”
Speaking in a personal piece to Utility Week earlier this week, Jonathan Brearley, Ofgem CEO said:
“At this fourth EDI in Energy Conference, as we celebrate some success, we need to acknowledge that the industry, including its regulator, have a long way to go. No major organisation can fully represent the people they serve through its leadership but without a diverse set of backgrounds it is much harder than ever to do so. If we don’t change and adapt to the background and personal life of those who work in the sector, we will lose some of our best talent – at a time when the sector needs it the most.”
The new Energy Leaders’ Commitment requires leaders to:
- Visibly demonstrate allyship and promote EDI
- Challenge fellow leaders and stakeholders in poor EDI practice
- Include at least one EDI target as part of their performance objectives, and ensure their direct reports do the same.
- Ensure senior accountability (Board level) for EDI within their organisation, and frameworks, policies and processes for reporting harassment and abuse
- Ensure the organisation they lead:
- has inclusive recruitment practices
- gathers EDI data and set targets for improvement within 12 months if one does not exist
- embeds EDI into its business mission, strategy and values to drive an inclusive company culture
By signing up, leaders are also committing the organisation to completing the TIDE Health Index which will serve as the first cross-industry survey of energy companies’ progress on EDI. The Health Index will be piloted over the rest of this year, and if deemed useful by industry will be rolled out in 2024. EDI and HR professionals who would like the opportunity to shape the Health Index and participate in the pilot should visit www.energyedihub.uk to register their interest.
Today, TIDE is also launching a call for input for its online EDI Hub, which will seek to be a one stop shop for EDI professionals in the energy industry. Covering topics from EDI strategy to data collection, the group is requesting suggestions for training, resources, accreditation as well as case studies which demonstrate best practice, and examples of organisations that can support companies to improve their EDI. Input can be given here www.energyedihub.uk
Leaders will also today reflect on the latest research into the energy sector’s views in relation to EDI, carried out by Ofgem appointed insight consultancy Thinks Insight and Strategy.
The report shows clearly that:
- stakeholders see a role for EDI in enabling the sector to address two of its most pressing challenges: building trust with consumers and building a sustainable energy sector
- Leadership is also key to driving action, dialogue and momentum, and so diverse leadership should be an area of focus, with tangible action needed in relation to recruitment, retention, awareness, and accountability.
The full research can be viewed here: www.energyedihub.uk
NOTES TO EDITORS
The TIDE Taskforce was launched at the 2022 EDI Conference, as a cross-industry group to improve Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion across the energy sector.
Its priorities were determined via input from Senior Leaders and EDI professionals at the conference last year;
- Insight gathering
- Sharing best practice
- Engaging with leaders
A key principle that will be maintained as activity progresses is that the Taskforce will leverage existing activity and resources to supercharge EDI improvements across the sector, not duplicate.
TIDE is spearheaded by Ofgem, the ENA, the Energy Institute and Energy UK, with the four CEOs meeting on a quarterly basis to provide steer and challenge to the group.
After an open application process, over 40 people from across the energy sector are now involved across various working and delivery groups. This includes representatives from POWERful Women, PRIDE in Energy, Energy Utility and Skills and the Offshore Wind Sector Deal Skills Workstream.
The workstream leads intend to update on progress and showcase upcoming activity at this year’s Conference.
There will be opportunities to learn more about the work of the TIDE Taskforce and network with members. More information on TIDE can be found by following on LinkedIn.
This group has been gathering momentum over what has been a very busy and challenging period in energy and conference delegates will hear an update on TIDE’s work, as well as have the opportunity to provide input and feedback.
Key achievements include:
- Following an open application process, there are now over 20 organisations represented in the TIDE Steering Group, and over 30 across the Taskforce.
- The Taskforce has been driven forward by industry, for industry from the beginning, with the group’s priorities determined from input from senior leaders and EDI professionals.
- The work has not lost momentum and we continue to see good engagement at regular meetings
- Working across a programme of EDI topics, the group has launched a Leaders’ Commitment, and a webinar series which will run into 2024. The webinars aim to give practical tips for EDI professionals and are already receiving good engagement and feedback.
- The creation of an EDI Hub which will be an online, one stop shop hub for EDI in the energy industry, is underway. It will include links to tools and training to equip the industry, as well as best practice examples and other resources to support sector-wide EDI improvements.
This year the group intends to pilot an EDI healthcheck for companies in the energy industry.