The energy industry is changing rapidly. We are in the middle of an exciting transition and as we decarbonise our economy, we’ll need an increasingly diverse workforce, not only to ensure we look more like the society we serve, but we’ll also need all the good ideas we can get.
Just 12% of engineers are women, so we need more diverse STEM candidates. Equally, we need to value broader skillsets because many of our strategic challenges are social or political. Women hold only 13% of Executive Board seats although that has doubled since 2019. If we want women to progress in our sector, we need them at the top because you can’t be what you can’t see.
I’ve had the opportunity to put into practice much of what I preach since becoming Chief Executive in September – an appointment made possible by steps to accommodate a breastfeeding mother and flexible hours. I hope there’s value in others seeing me juggling my daughter and my career (often visibly on zoom calls) – after all the gender pay gap (17.5% in the energy sector according to the ONS) is in part due to women’s career paths after having children.
It will be fascinating to see whether new ways of working in the pandemic will endure, and if they’ll make it easier for diverse candidates including more women to progress – something we’ll be exploring more at our forthcoming Inclusion, Equality & Diversity Conference in April.
An inter-sectional, inclusive approach to diversity might be especially important for the energy sector, given our role in decarbonisation. Firstly, the impacts of climate change are falling hardest on women and vulnerable communities, exacerbating inequalities that already exist, just as has happened during the pandemic. Secondly, as the energy transition gathers pace, we will perspectives (and skills!) drawn from across society to help make a Net Zero economy successful.
The industry does have measures in place to increase diversity, recent sector deals have included diversity commitments and there are initiatives spanning the sector, including Energy UK’s own Pride in Energy network and Equality & Diversity Forum. It is important, more than ever.
To mark the International Women’s Day this year, we have asked women working in our sector to share what they enjoy about their role, how the sector has changed and why it is a great place for women to work. I hope the videos will inspire and convince more women to consider working in our sector. It is truly an exciting time to join and your work will make a difference and help tackle the biggest challenge of our generation: climate change.