UK Energy Industry Launches Coalition on Gender Diversity

A new initiative has been launched to boost the number of women at senior levels and middle management in the UK energy industry.

The Energy Leaders’ Coalition comprises eight of the leading chief executives from the UK’s energy sector – of which only two are women – who are making a public declaration to improve gender diversity in their companies and in the sector as a whole.  Sinead Lynch, UK Country Chair for ShellJuliet Davenport of renewables utility Good Energy

The initiative has been welcomed by the UK government’s Business Secretary Greg Clark, who said that “if companies fail to have diversity at the top of their business they are missing out on the full talent available to them”.

“While some energy companies have made progress to improve diversity in the boardroom, we need all companies in this sector to step up. Foresighted initiatives like this new coalition will break down barriers and help ensure that women are not held back and are given equal opportunities in the workplace.”

The coalition has been launched in response to new board statistics that reveal little progress has been made by the UK’s top 80 energy companies over the past 12 months in meeting targets to improve gender diversity. The report states that women still occupy only 13 per cent of board seats; occupy only 6 per cent of executive board seats, and half of those 80 companies have no women at all on their boards.

Ruth Cairnie, Chair of POWERful Women, an initiative that promotes the professional growth and leadership development of women across the energy sector said: “Our latest statistics show that, while some progress has been made in getting women into senior positions, it is moving far too slowly.  We are missing out on a wealth of female talent. The Energy Leaders’ Coalition shows what good leadership looks like and we hope will inspire others in the sector to take convincing action.”

The two women in the eight chief executives leading The Energy Leaders’ Coalition are Juliet Davenport of renewables utility Good Energy and Sinead Lynch, UK Country Chair for Shell.

Davenport said: “I’ve seen first-hand in Good Energy that a diverse workforce, and a gender balanced board, make for a better business. Not only that, there’s also evidence that gender diversity could be a part of our switch to a greener future in the energy sector — we know that sustainability focussed businesses tend to be more balanced. That’s why, whilst it’s positive we have seen some progress in women moving into senior positions in energy, it’s absolutely crucial that this change continues to accelerate.”

Lynch added that the power and utility industry “is adapting to a changing energy system. For Shell to lead in the energy transition, we need to be a true meritocracy. We need to attract the best talent and enable those individuals to thrive and fulfil their potential. Diversity, in all its forms, will be how we find the best solution to the challenges and opportunities ahead. For us, it makes good business sense to support and empower women at every stage of their career.”

RELATED CONTENT: Is the missing link in utilities innovation a human one? Understanding consumers and what drives them is one of the key areas in which utilities are still lagging. This is because energy consumers are diverse – and energy leaders, in most cases, are not. Utilities need more diversity in the company make-up.

Editor’s Note: Nominations are currently being accepted for the POWERGEN International Woman of the Year Award. Do you know a woman in the energy industry who deserves to be recognized? Nominate her today at this link.

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Kelvin Ross is Editor of Power Engineering International magazine and its associated publications – Middle East Energy and the Global Power Review . Previously, Kelvin was News Editor at UK online news site Energy Live News, Production Editor and Head of Design on daily international shipping newspaper Lloyd’s List, Deputy Editor for a group of weekly London newspapers and has worked as a freelance sub-editor on UK national newspapers.

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