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Igniting Change 2:

Building the pipeline of female leaders in energy

Introduction

It’s a turbulent time in the UK energy industry. The dramatic fall in oil prices, the reduction in subsidies for renewables and uncertainty surrounding the UK’s nuclear projects have all played a part.

However, one thing has stayed the same; the very low proportion of women in senior positions in UK energy companies.

The latest analysis shows that despite widespread recognition of the benefits of gender equality, there has been a marked lack of progress in the number of females in senior energy positions over the last 12 months. However everyone we have spoken to acknowledges that things can and need to change.

“When we launched our Igniting Change report last year there was widespread shock at the low numbers recorded and recognition of the strong focus needed to drive change across organisations, from developing a sustainable pipeline of young women recruits to strong female leaders."

Laura Manson-SmithPwC energy partner

Key findings

So what is different about the energy sector and why is it so difficult to change it? Part of the answer comes down to the sector’s history - heavy-engineering has traditionally been male-dominated. But in 2016, how valid a reason is that? And are companies, their leaders and their HR functions doing enough to counterbalance this? Building on last year’s research, we have examined what each group can do to make this happen.

Responsibilities of CEO’s

  • Lead by example
  • Set and communicate targets
  • Build a solid pipeline
“It’s no longer about policies, it’s now about attitudes. Don’t tell me that if a CEO and Chair want something to happen badly enough, it won’t happen, because I believe it will. So we have to ask, why isn’t it happening?”

Adriènne Kelbie, CEO of the Office for Nuclear Regulation

What HR can do to drive diversity

  • Demand diverse shortlists
  • Report on gender diversity
  • Align talent management processes
“We really want all our initiatives to be owned by the business. Diversity isn’t an “HR thing”. It’s a business thing.”

Hamish Watson, HR Director, Scottish Power

What can women do?

  • Seek out opportunities
  • Build your network and sponsorship
  • Be aware of, and learn, the rules
“It’s no longer about policies, it’s now about attitudes. Don’t tell me that if a CEO and Chair want something to happen badly enough, it won’t happen, because I believe it will. So we have to ask, why isn’t it happening?”

Adriènne Kelbie, CEO of the Office for Nuclear Regulation

“I really fear that Energy is standing still while many other sectors are now making progress, and at a time when Energy needs diversity more than ever. We need leaders to show real leadership, they are the key.”

Ruth CairnieChair, POWERful Women

What we've found so far

Discussions at the 2016 Powerful Women launch event highlighted what's working well in organisations, as well as where we still need to improve.

What's working well?

Women's networks and groups

  • Sharing experiences shows that you can have a fulfilling career as a woman in the energy industry and support the internal pipeline.
  • Female talent feel listened to and can learn from senior women's experience.


Setting the tone from the top

  • Engaged, committed CEOs encourage women to aim higher.
  • Ambitious targets must be set and measured, with progress (and the lack of it) announced regularly. 

What do we need to work on?

Maternity leave

  • Younger, successful women need to be able to plan for the future. There isn't just one route or timetable to senior roles.
  • Options such as sharing maternity leave and part-time working must be celebrated and publicised.
     

Introducing blind searches/recruitment processes

  • Address unconscious bias so that job promotions and hires always consider diversity.
  • More non-identified shortlisting is an easy way to encourage change

Contact us

Louise Hadcocks

Marketing Manager - Energy, Utilities & Mining, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)20 7804 2451

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