There are too few women entering, staying in and reaching the highest levels of the energy industry, a new report says.
Professional services firm PwC and industry body POWERful Women (PfW) reveal research findings showing just 5% of executive boards seats among the top 100 UK-headquartered energy firms are held by women.
More than three in five of the firms (61%) have no women on their boards at all.
The report – Igniting Change: building the pipeline of female leaders in energy – sets out a “route map” for achieving PfW’s target of women making up 30% of executive energy company boards and 40% of middle management by 2030 at the latest.
Improving gender diversity at the top level of management in the industry will make for better decision-making, bring fresh perspectives, increase trust and strengthen the sector in the long term, it adds.
Laura Manson-Smith, PwC energy partner and co-author of the report, published today, said: “The current statistics on women in the energy industry make depressing reading.
“It’s time to ignite change if we are to secure a bright future for the UK energy industry in what is an increasingly competitive global marketplace.”
She added: “While writing this report we unearthed some great examples of women who have carved out fantastic careers in energy.
“While these stories are thought-provoking and inspiring, they are not by any means standard or every day. Much more needs to be done if we are to normalise women’s ambitions for a rewarding career path.
“What is encouraging is that of those men and women surveyed, 91% were clear that they would recommend a career in energy to their daughters.
“We hope our report will be a catalyst for change in 2015, helping to create a brighter future for both this and the next generation throughout the energy industry.”
PfW co-founder Baroness Verma said: “This report comes at an important moment for the country’s energy sector.
“As we transform the way we generate and use energy, we must also transform the disparity of representation of women at the top table.”
The Igniting Change document outlines barriers and practical recommendations for the way forward.
It says chief executives and other senior bosses must lead by example, not only by setting and delivering on targets and actively promoting diversity across their organisation but by “creating a diverse leadership team and challenging bias”.
The report urges human resource teams to “re-examine their talent management, recruitment and reporting processes to ensure they aren’t disadvantaging women” and demand diverse short-lists across the organisation.
It also says the industry needs to “better understand the full range of opportunities on offer and reposition itself as an important, innovative and exciting workplace for men and women alike.”
By Keith Findlay