New initiative aims to boost gender diversity in energy sector

A new initiative aimed at boosting the number of women at senior level and middle management roles in the UK’s energy sector has been launched at the POWERful Women conference in London.

The Energy Leaders’ Coalition was formed in response to new POWERful Women (PfW) statistics highlighting the ‘little progress’ made by the UK’s 80 top energy companies in the past 12 months to hit targets to increase gender diversity, both in their companies and the sector as a whole. 

Comprising eight CEOs from the UK’s energy sector, the initiative was launched at the inaugural PfW Conference in partnership with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

Some of the revealing figures highlighted during the event included:

  • Women occupy 13% of board seats in the top 80 (up from 11% in 2017);
  • Women make up 6% of executive board seats (same as in 2017);
  • 86% of the top 80 have no female executive director;
  • Half of the top 80 companies have no women on their Board (up from 46% in 2017); and
  • Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity outperform those in the bottom quartile by 35%.


Key speaker and Chair of POWERful Women, Ruth Cairnie, also revealed the PfW's objective to see 30% of executive board roles and 30% of management roles filled by women by 2030.

Other highlights included inspirational talks by
BEIS Director General, Jeremy Pocklington, and BEIS Permanent Secretary Alex Chisholm, with topics ranging from the gender pay gap to how women can stand out in a male dominated industry.

The event also saw the launch of a joint report by consulting firm Korn Ferry Hay Group and PfW on how the UK’s gender pay gap legislation is encouraging energy companies to step up their efforts on equal pay. Commenting on the report findings, Korn Ferry Consultant and Associate Client Partner, Desi Kimmins, highlighted the need for companies to: ‘invest in women to be able to proactively manage their careers in a male-dominated environment, and flexible working and return-to-work arrangements.’ 

Kimmins also recommended the co-creation of partnerships with schools and universities to increase the number of females pursuing careers in the STEM fields.

Welcoming the initiative, Business Secretary, Greg Clark, said: ‘While some energy companies have made progress to improve diversity in the boardroom, we need all companies 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.’

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