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New Energy World magazine logo
ISSN 2753-7757 (Online)

Pride in Energy 2023 LGBTQI+ survey results express importance of industry role models and dissatisfaction with corporate ‘pinkwashing’


Pride Flag flying in front of building Photo: Pixabay
76% of respondents in this year’s survey said they have visible LGBTQI+ people or allies in their senior teams or management

Photo: Pixabay

Pride in Energy has published its third annual survey results, revealing positive trends towards gender identity and sexual identity inclusion in the UK’s energy sector. Nevertheless, more progress needs to be made with respondents calling for real inclusivity in the form of advocacy and visible role models and shunning empty ‘pinkwashing’ PR and marketing.

Some 251 people from the energy industry were surveyed by the energy industry’s diversity forum and network for LGBTQI+ members this year. Their responses demonstrate the same disparity between individuals’ perceptions of the companies they work for and the wider sector, as seen in previous years’ results. For instance, 71% of people said they consider their employer to provide an inclusive environment, whereas just 21% think the same of the rest of the industry.  


To resolve this perception issue, by far the most popular response with a margin of over 50% compared to the least favoured, was for there to be more visible LGBTQI+ role models and advocacy by senior leadership. Almost a quarter of survey respondents indicated that there were no visible LGBTQI+ role models or allies in their senior teams or management.  


Moreover, the most unpopular approach to the perception problem was corporate visibility and PR activity, a clear rejection of ‘pinkwashing’ approaches by companies who purport to support LGBTQI+ people but act differently in practice.  


Nevertheless, this year’s survey did show that 76% of respondents have visible LGBTQI+ people or allies in their senior teams or management. 63% of people said there is an LGBTQI+ network in the company they work for.  


In addition, just 14% of respondents – the same number as last year – reported witnessing or experiencing discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation in the past year.  


Anonymous responses included: ‘Comments and jokes made about LGBT issues which, while not necessarily malicious, do not foster an accepting atmosphere where I would feel comfortable coming out, and dismiss or trivialise the things that mean people don't feel able to come out.’


‘The company pays lip service to diversity and inclusion. I think it is important to much of the senior leadership but nobody drives it forward and so efforts are often left to the one, out, lower-level employee to organise.’


‘LGBT+ inclusion is very tokenism – based on PRIDE month and the LGBT+ theme of the time only. Not actually fed into understanding or priority of anyone in the organisation.’


Joshua Atkins, Founder and Chair of Pride in Energy, commented: ‘This year’s research shows positive progress in some areas, but there’s a clear rejection of ‘pinkwashing’ and a call for organisations and their leaders to tackle the inclusivity deficit head-on.  


‘Diversity is at the heart of net zero. Without resolving the people and skills challenges we face as a sector, the UK will struggle to deliver the decentralised, decarbonised and digitalised energy system it needs.  


‘Pride in Energy is keen to work closely with even more organisations to help drive positive change.’


More details will be published on the Pride in Energy LinkedIn page and Twitter-X profile.