“Diversity strengthens all of us, it builds us up and makes us better”

On International Women’s Day, Hannah Mary Goodlad AMEI, Head of Baltic Sea Area Development at Equinor and the driving force behind the film The Challenge of our Time, which was premiered by the EI’s young professionals at COP26, explains why the environment, energy and diversity matter.

I was born and raised in the Shetland Islands, the most northerly point in the UK. With rugged, untamed nature at every turn, Shetland can’t help but shape many to develop a spirit of restless love for our precious planet. I was certainly not unique in this regard; spending almost all my childhood outside in the wild, it was impossible not to turn into a dedicated environmentalist.

Like countless generations of Shetlanders before me, I looked towards the oceans for my living. But instead of the fishing, the merchant navy, or aquaculture, I chose energy.

Energy is fundamental. It’s not just essential, it literally defined us as a species. Energy elevates millions out of poverty, raises global living standards and connects the world. In my mind, the energy industry is a good place to pin your colours to the mast if you want to help change the world for the better. And with every fibre of my being, I get up each morning determined to play my part in shaping a better future of energy.

With Geology and Chemistry degrees from Glasgow University and Imperial College, I have spent the last decade working for Equinor, the Norwegian energy company. Firstly, in a variety of subsurface roles and more recently, within the renewables and low carbon section of Equinor. From various roles across UK offshore wind operations, I then moved back into projects and now lead the offshore wind area development within the Baltic Sea.

Like many, I want the energy transition to accelerate. And also like many, I get frustrated with the pace of change. But if the winter of 2021 and recent geopolitical developments has shown us anything, it is a strong heads-up to how unpredictable and uncertain the energy landscape will be. The road towards 2030 and beyond is going to be bumpy and one thing is for certain, this is not a one-horse commodity race. The ongoing energy crisis underlines the fact that our energy systems face significant risks if they rely too much on one supplier for a key element.
Customers need sustainable, affordable, and reliable energy. And the answer to that trinity challenge is not a one technology monopoly – it is a diverse jigsaw of integration, balancing and bundling.

An energy system diverse in name and diverse by nature, is something we all need to power ourselves towards.

Diversity means several things to me. It’s about feeling comfortable and bringing my true self to work, feeling valued and empowered to contribute. It’s about having my biases challenged daily to enable me to see past assumptions, to approach a challenge from all angles and to handle risk more effectively. What an authentic diverse culture ensures is that in turn, we can make the road easier, with less hurdles for the next generation and the ones following in our footsteps. I am forever humbled and left with huge admiration for the women who went before me to ensure that I would have an easier path.

We all know that diversity matters, it strengthens all of us, it builds us up and makes us better. But what’s becoming increasingly clear is that diversity also makes sense in business terms. The latest research from McKinsey finds that companies in the top quartile for gender or racial and ethnic diversity are more likely to have financial returns above their national industry medians. Better balance makes for better business, quite literally.

Diversity has never been more important, because the energy transition is going to take all of us. Everyone’s part in this journey is important. Together we can break the bias and empower a diverse society, a diverse workforce, and a diverse industry to rise to this challenge. We also need to make the energy transition accessible to all. Because here’s the thing; if you have access to something, you can be involved. And when you’re involved, you can make a change. As many people as possible need to understand that they can contribute and really make a change.

I’m incredibly proud to work in the energy industry and I cannot think of a more motivating job. To wake up every morning and know that I am playing my part in shaping the future of energy – what a privilege, what a responsibility and what an absolute joy!

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