A recent report by PWC in association with POWERful Women (PfW) shared that only 6% of executive boards seats in top 100 UK-headquartered energy firms are held by women, a troubling statistic in the age of women empowerment, diversity and inclusion targets and a changing energy landscape. With International Women’s Day 2017 only a few weeks away (8 March), what more can we do to attract, retain and promote female talent in the energy sector?
Energy is all around us; in the food that we eat, the roads that we travel, the homes that we live in and the businesses we work in. It’s something we all take for granted. Yet it’s not something we are taught at school. Most of today’s energy professionals have fallen into the sector by accident and never looked back. I want tomorrow’s leaders to join because they want to, with a purpose and on purpose. The energy industry is incredibly diverse and full of opportunities to learn, to grow but most importantly to make a difference. Offering careers in oil and gas, renewable energy, energy efficiency, product innovation, energy policy and public engagement to name a few, the sector has something for all skill sets.
So how do we attract more women into energy from an early age? The process needs to start at home and then must continue on into schools. We need to raise awareness of the range of energy careers available and showcase the many amazing women already working in energy. As practitioners, we have a duty to reach out and inspire the next generation of energy professionals. So where do we start? By volunteering to talk at a school careers event, by posting fun facts about your role on social media or by just sharing your career experiences with your daughters, grand-daughters, nieces and the young boys in the family too!
But once we’ve jumped the first hurdle and attracted some women into this male dominated sector, what can we do to ensure we keep them? Similarly to other industries facing this challenge, the key is to provide, development opportunities, job satisfaction, flexibility and inspirational role models. As someone who entered the energy sector as a young female, I know too well how important these all are.
A collaborative environment that allowed me to be creative, to grow and to develop others is what has kept me in this industry for over a decade. I’ve had many supporters over the years who have been fundamental to my progression. Through the Energy Institute, I have obtained Chartered Energy Manager status, won the Young Energy Professional of the year award and now sit on the Energy Institute Council. These achievements have not only boosted my confidence, but given me a sense of professional credibility when I most doubted myself. We need to do more to promote, showcase and champion the women making waves in the energy sector. So, shine a light on a female energy professional you know, enter them for an award, put them forward for a guest blog, or simply tell them they inspire you.
PfW is a great initiative designed not only to showcase but also most importantly to develop the best women in the industry. Developing female leaders within the sector is crucial to ensuring we have a seat at the table and are able to influence decisions at the highest level. As members of this growing industry, we are surely the best ambassadors of it, so let’s shout about how great it is from the solar paneled rooftops and help each other on the climb to the top. If each of us inspired just one more woman into the sector, imagine the difference we could collective make.
Happy International Women’s Day to all the women (and men) who have inspired and supported me throughout my career in energy