Oil and gas companies are facing increasing pressure from investors to incorporate assessments of companies’ gender diversity and equity to determine how they might respond to ESG risks and opportunities.
The Women in Energy Global Study is an annual report produced by energy recruitment leaders NES Fircroft and Energy Jobline, which looks to highlight the barriers women in the sector are currently facing, as well as the opportunities that will allow energy firms to successfully attract and retain women in energy to achieve ESG goals.
Completed by over 2,000 people working in energy, the survey investigates the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on women in the sector, how important the net-zero agenda is to women working in each of the energy industries as well as timely answers to how to recruit and retain female talent.
This report details key topics affecting the world of work right now, as well as the concrete actions companies can take to build diversity, equity and inclusion into systems and processes, but also into the whole breadth of company culture.
The post-COVID workplace
As we enter a third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s no secret that the ongoing global restrictions have significantly impacted companies’ ways of working. With little warning, firms have been forced to re-think their entire working procedures and place a level of trust in their staff that, 18 months ago, would have made most executives nervous.
While evidence shows that women’s jobs and livelihoods have been disproportionately impacted by the global pandemic, these working practice developments mean that many more flexible options such as remote and hybrid working have been permanently initiated. But who is currently benefiting most and are employers getting it right?
When survey respondents were quizzed on flexible working, 52% of women thought the Covid-19 pandemic had significantly advanced aspects of flexible working in their current roles (and 44% of men felt the same).
40% of the women who responded to the survey felt the advancement of flexible working opportunities due to Covid-19 had been a positive change, compared to 29% of men. Interestingly, while most men also thought it was a positive change, they were much more inclined to say that it had ‘negatively’ impacted them, as opposed to ‘it hasn’t impacted me’, ‘not sure’ or ‘neutral / mixed’.
With societal norms resulting in many women becoming the at-home support for their families during the pandemic, could this explain the greater significance in the lives of women working in energy, compared to men? Despite this, men working in the sector also recognized the impact, suggesting all professionals were subject to change. The question is, was the change positive?
The survey shows an overwhelming number of respondents (64%) believe flexible working is here to stay and women were even more optimistic (with 68% of respondents choosing ‘yes’).
Both men and women were in agreement that career progression opportunities had slowed since the start of the pandemic, with 44% of respondents claiming the virus outbreak had negatively impacted their overall career progression.
Around a third of both men and women reported ‘no change’ to their job statuses during the first year of the pandemic—specifically, 31% of female and 35% of male respondents.
Despite this, the survey shows that more women ‘resigned and started a new role’ and ‘gave up work completely’ compared to their male counterparts. A number of women were also ‘made redundant’ at 13% or ‘went part-time’ at 11%.
Positively, the majority of respondents believe their current employers have remained committed to their pre-pandemic D&I targets, with 51% stating the level of commitment ‘has stayed the same’ and 37% said their firms are now ‘more committed’.
For more than 60% of female respondents, there was a strong assumption that firms focused on achieving net zero emissions attract more talent. For men, the figure was slightly less but both genders were in agreement that keeping climate change on the agenda would benefit a company’s employer brand.
Attracting and developing potential
Women are well positioned to fill a large proportion of the vacancies needed for not only the energy transition, but also the global skills shortage. But how can companies boost the size of the female pipeline whilst maintaining a focus on retaining the talent that already exists?
While men and women had similar understandings of their employer’s mentoring offerings, more male respondents (62%) said that their company offers mentoring programs of some kind, compared to 58% of women. A further 38% of women said their current employer doesn’t offer a mentoring program (verses 29% of men).
Climate agenda is exciting
Amongst women, by far the strongest motivation for working in the energy industry is ‘the climate agenda’ chosen by 38% of female respondents. This reaffirms women’s passion for the energy transition. This again differed from male responses, where ‘the opportunity to work with new technologies’ was the most popular option (at 44%). Technology was also high on the agenda for women (at 23%) alongside ‘working on solutions to meet evolving energy demands’ (at 20%).
More than ever, there is pressure on oil and gas companies to contribute to climate solutions and the companies thought to be at the forefront of this mission are the ones that employ the most unique and innovative teams—something that is statistically more likely to be achieved with diversity, equity and inclusion.
The Women in Energy Global Study shows companies considering their net zero position can now make a link between the energy transition and gender diversity, as women are clearly highly motivated by the climate change agenda and are arguably more passionate than their male colleagues.
Women are also not being directed to mentoring programs, which could be hindering their development within companies. This presents a significant challenge to organizations looking to promote more women into senior positions.
The energy sector is in the middle of an exciting period of growth and innovation. Companies must now focus on their strongest asset: people, ensuring the Net Zero workforce is built of unique mindsets, diverse perspectives and inclusive leaders.
About the author:
Vicki Codd is marketing director at NES Fircroft, a staffing company dedicated to providing the skilled engineers and technical workforce needed to deliver the energy and scientific solution for the future.
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