By Velda Addison, Hart Energy
Results from a recently released survey reveal that initiatives aimed at increasing the number of female workers in the oil and gas industry are not working.
The Global Workforce Survey, conducted by OilCareers.com and Air Energi, showed that 47% of the employees and 40% of the hiring managers who participated in the survey believe the gender gap is still an issue. Considering the majority—63% of employees and 71% of hiring managers—agree that addressing the issue would widen the talent pool means there is still a chance that this situation can be improved.
“Our findings show the masculine image and perception of the industry pervades in every region, and this is a crucial barrier in the minds of many women,” Air Energi CEO Duncan Gregson said in a news release about the survey. “By addressing this, along with improving the scope and measurement of internal company initiatives, it is possible that we will start [to] see a shift in the number of women coming into oil and gas at all levels of seniority. In short, someone in every company needs to be accountable for these initiatives and have the authority to adapt them if they need to.”
Some companies have tried to increase the number of women through recruitment quotas, while others have also worked to encourage girls to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in hopes that they will pick a career in oil and gas.
But let’s face it: Some women are simply not interested in working in the oil and gas sector. The reasons vary. Some may be deterred by the physical working environment for certain aspects of the business. Others may be turned off by the very male-dominated environment some companies are trying to balance by pursuing gender initiatives. Yet, others may be more interested in banking, education, public service, health care, pharmaceutical, governmental or retail sectors.
The same can be said of some men.
The industry should step up recruitment efforts on all fronts—women, men, black, white, brown, etc.—as older workers retire. Finding skilled workers remains a challenge. This comes as the industry in general continues to face a perception issue, especially among young people, in some areas.
So widening the overall talent pool should be the goal.
“The survey also looked into overall hiring activity and salary expectations around the world. 46% of hiring managers thought recruitment levels for permanent staff will remain steady, and 48% thought recruitment of contract personnel would remain the same throughout the second part of 2014 compared to the first six months,” the release said. “The findings reflect a more cautious industry overall, with fewer hiring managers (38%) expecting salary rates to continue to increase compared to 58% in the workforce survey conducted in the first half of 2014.”
The release stated that more than 4,300 employees and hiring managers working in the oil and gas industry participated in the survey “that looked at the issues surrounding the lack of women taking on key roles in the sector.”
It’s interesting to note that 88% of the survey’s employee respondents were male, and 68% of the hiring managers were male.
Contact the author, Velda Addison, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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