Energy diversity: Yuan covers the Annual SPE Women in Energy Seminar
Energy diversity has become one of the most impactful mainstream business issues of our age.
In recent years, we have seen more females graduating university than ever before. However, statistics show that when considering the energy and engineering sectors, few of these young professionals continue to progress through to the managerial and directorial positions. The oil and gas sector’s statistics are particularly concerning, with only 4% female representation at executive board. There is still much room for improvement when it comes to energy diversity.
Research from the Global Energy Talent Index (GETI) has also signified that despite 72% of the industry believing there is a skills shortage in oil and gas, only 22% of hiring managers considered hiring more women the best course of action to bridging the gap.
The industry is crying out for a new social equilibrium.
Energy Jobline were delighted to receive an invitation to the 11th Edition of the Annual SPE Women in Energy Seminar. The day-long seminar, joined by industry’s organizations and professionals explored new breakthroughs in gender diversity across a vast amount of major oil and gas operators. Speakers also highlighted the importance of creating a forum for sharing expertise and keeping the momentum alive.
During the discussion, 3 key messages emerged:
1. Keeping your head down and working hard is not enough - In order to succeed in a male-built environment, women must be able to navigate the landscape, whilst firmly grasping rules of engagement.
Eghosa, Director at Baker Hughes, spoke in great detail about women feeling encouraged to take risks in their careers. As a female, you must know your value, drive results and have hobbies and passions to allow you to become a well-rounded employee. This includes continually benchmarking your skills outside of your technical expertise. For example, asking the question: “Am I politically savvy?” “How strong am I at building relationships?”
2. Challenging society’s underlying bias to women – There is an unspoken bias towards the way women act when compared with their career status and the stage they are at in their lives. For example, when operating with a direct approach, females are often deemed as bossy or aggressive. Employers sometimes assume that women who have families to support will want to be part-timers, as it’s thought to be difficult for a woman to fully achieve a balance between work and family commitments. Energy Jobline has worked with many female industry leaders, such as Janette Marx, Global COO at Airswift, who has led a largely successful career whilst starting her own family. The bias does exist, but it doesn’t need to. It has been consistently proven that women can reach the c-suite roles and still have time to care for their loved ones.
“Live your life by design, not by default. “
Providing access to mentors and work schemes that allow flexibility is key. The Permits Foundation is a great example of cross-industry collaboration from global organizations that ‘campaigns globally to improve work permit regulations to make it easier for partners of expatriate staff to gain employment during an international assignment.’
From the conversations had post seminar, questions were raised as to whether we were ‘preaching to the converted’ and how we can use our voices to reach out to those that are not.
3. The stats don’t lie - Although the landscape for diversity within the STEM industry appears to be changing and each organisation strives to achieve an inclusive workforce, in reality, research has shown the percentage of women in senior roles has remained stagnant for the last 2 years (at 9%), which is a long way from the target of 30% by 2030.
It’s not all doom and gloom. Shell, for example, has stated that 40% of its workforce are female. Is it a matter of time we see more women rise through the ranks? Additionally, how do we retain talent if 40% of skilled women leave employment after having children and 95% of those never go back to the same employer?
It is evident from research that the real challenge is how this commitment and momentum within the diversity supporting males and females of the industry can drive the agenda to be translated to tangible and measurable results.