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The last few decades have seen businesses such as Home Depot, Mattel, Starbucks and Walmart try and fail to break into international markets. While these attempts have been varied, the crucial failing has been characterized by a common thread. These businesses often approached global expansion from a viewpoint that assumed that what is true of North America and Western Europe is true globally. This resulted in an oversight of cultural, social, ethnic and religious nuances present in the communities where they aimed to succeed.

The events of the last year have buttressed the importance and feasibility of leveraging regional-focused approaches to responding to problems. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, countries across the world closed their borders, and many were forced to look inward for solutions to problems and innovate around resources they once outsourced. The U.S., for example, became more aware of its reliance on China and India for pharmaceuticals, which led many to call for the reshoring and in-sourcing of supply chains. This approach is beneficial both practically and culturally. Diversity in Energy Lean in Energy Op-ed - Lamé Verre headshot

“There is great potential for the energy industry to play a prominent role in the fight for global equality.” —Lamé Verre, Lean in Energy

Furthermore, it is also worth noting that organizations that lead global projects from the topdown require a handful of people to tune in with hundreds of different groups’ cultural and religious nuances. Projects built from the ground up cut out this work, dealing with local issues at the source and allowing a community to ensure a project represents their group before it is brought into international dialogue. It ensures solutions to issues are applicable and relevant for each area.

Against this backdrop, the energy industry has seen many organizations currently putting localization at the top of their talent management and succession planning agenda by filling top positions with homegrown talents. In 2021 Shell appointed Elohor Aiboni managing director for Shell Nigeria, Tullow appointed Cynthia Lumor deputy managing director for Tullow Ghana, and in 2020 Aker appointed Kadijah Amoah country director of Aker Energy Ghana.

DEI and belonging

The regional approach at Lean In Energy (LIEN) is designed to suit this need for locally focused and nuanced approach in the energy sector. Our subdivisions allow LIEN to build from the ground up, bringing the talents and struggles of different communities to the global stage in a self-defined and relevant manner. Our regional approach reflects our desire to ensure our conversations are adequately nuanced regarding diversity, equity, inclusion (DEI), and belonging.

When discussing female empowerment within the energy sector, for example, we do so from an inclusive viewpoint rather than any stereotypical lens. There is great potential for the energy industry to play a prominent role in the fight for global equality because the sector is heavily tied to enabling food security, access to clean water, resources and agricultural productivity. Therefore, getting women into leadership roles within the energy industry not only corrects the gender imbalance in a corporate context, but it provides an opportunity for these women to alleviate the struggles of others, men and women alike, at a fundamental level.

However, the success of this knock-on effect requires men and women who occupy these leadership positions to be sensitive to diverse experiences, see the importance of regional representation and become allies themselves to others who may not look like them.

Accordingly, our work at LIEN operates and empowers members to act in a manner that allows every community to self-represent. The result is an international movement toward gender equality within the energy sector, formed from effective localized and regional action, rather than a homogenous top-down system that could misrepresent many of the regions it aims to represent.

While there is a place for globalization, implementation of DEI efforts should be tailored to fit the part of the world in which companies operate.