News story

Fuelling the pipeline of female talent in the UK’s energy sector

Baroness Verma launches POWERful Women - a new, professional initiative to showcase female leadership potential in the UK’s energy sector.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Laura Sandys MP, Nicky Morgan MP and Baroness Verma at the launch of Powerful Women
Laura Sandys MP, Nicky Morgan MP and Baroness Verma at the launch of Powerful Women.

Today Baroness Verma is launching POWERful Women (PfW) – a new, professional initiative to showcase female leadership potential in the UK’s energy sector. PfW has an ambition of ‘30% of executive energy company board members to be female by 2030’ and ‘40% of energy company middle management to be female by 2030’.

The energy sector is tackling a wide range of important challenges – from keeping the lights on to helping consumers reduce energy waste and building a more sustainable low carbon future. Industry competitiveness relies on a diverse pool of talent capable of bringing fresh perspectives. Yet, recent research published by law firm Eversheds shows that on average only 12.8 per cent of jobs in the energy sector are held by women and 12.5 per cent of directors on energy company boards are female. PfW believes that a much stronger female influence is needed at the top table.

The group brings together industry, academia and political representatives that span exploration, energy generation and supply, energy efficiency, technology, government and consumer issues. It will support and encourage energy companies to appoint more women to senior roles as part of building stronger businesses – including through matching industry leaders with professional women to help overcome challenges and build opportunities for greater female leadership.

Baroness Verma, Energy and Climate Change Minister, and Co-Founder of POWERful Women, said:

“We need to transform the way we generate and use energy, but we also need to transform the disparity of representation of women in the industry, particularly at senior and mid-management levels. POWERful Women will endeavor to make this important goal become a reality – through bringing together industry, academic and political leaders to showcase women in the energy sector and provide support where it’s needed.”

Laura Sandys, Member of Parliament for South Thanet, and Co-Founder of POWERful Women, said:

“POWERful Women is a fantastic initiative which champions and supports women into leadership roles in the energy sector. By engaging with companies, drawing on expert guidance and encouraging fundamental change in business models, this organisation really is creating a new generation of Powerful Women.”

Nicky Morgan, Minister for Women said:

“It’s great to see the energy industry taking positive steps to promote female leadership. We know that businesses get stronger by having women engaged at all levels. Everyone will benefit from women bringing their expertise and a fresh perspective to meeting the UK’s energy needs.”

Mark Elborne, President & Chief Executive Officer of GE UK and Ireland, said:

“It’s very important that we bring the broadest array of talented people into an industry that clearly needs to be brought into the 21st Century. Bringing in really diverse, well qualified, well educated, smart people to lead the energy sector will bring the opportunity to change the way we’re doing the business today.”

Francis Gugen, Founder and Chairman, IGas Energy Plc and Chairman of Petroleum Geo-Services, ASA said:

“The oil industry needs talent. It involves complicated engineering, finance, social licence to operate, in fact every type of complexity and so we need a rich mix of bright and able people. Having more diversity around the table also just makes good business sense – for example women are the major buyers of the industries products – so I hope that POWERful women can help us run our businesses even better.”

Juliet Davenport, Founder and CEO of Good Energy, said:

“The energy sector faces massive political and consumer challenges, at the same time as going through a period of great structural change. We need a diverse set of ideas and views to be able to fix the problems the sector has. Having more women in the sector will help to ensure that we have a mix of views, can understand much more about what customers want, and are able to deliver a new set of innovative solutions to match those expectations.”

Dame Sue Ion, said:

“The energy sector is probably one of the most if not the most important sector for us in the 21st Century. Making sure we have secure and sustainable supplies of energy is absolutely paramount for us and we’re in the business of refreshing pretty much the whole of the infrastructure. It’s a known fact that having women in senior roles as part of balanced team delivers you better results than if you have singular gender teams. So women in leadership roles, where perhaps they have more empathy and are more willing to listen to ideas right across the board before reaching decisions, I think will deliver better results. There are definitely more women than there were say 10 – 15 years ago but it’s really important for the people that are now at the top of the energy sector to have a weather eye on the talent coming through at junior and certainly middle management areas.”

Gwen Parry-Jones, Safety and Assurance Director, EDF Energy said:

“POWERful Women’s aim of advancing the growth and leadership potential of women in the electricity and energy sector is really important because within this sector we need the best. If you think about the challenges that are facing us in the energy area we need to attract the best people to deliver the best product for the infrastructure of the UK. In my view women add an enormous amount to the diversity of teams and diverse teams I have seen in action provide the best outcomes for business. Women’s roles within the energy sector has never been more critical.”

Angela Knight, CEO of Energy UK said:

“Creating an organisation for the purposes of assisting and promoting women in an industry which has tended to be very masculine is an excellent proposal. I like the name too as “POWERful Women” both says what it is about – the power industry – and the upward direction we would like to see more women take. For companies, bringing more women into the industry in the first place brings a greater degree of diversity, thinking and ideas into that organisation and often shifts the focus towards the customers. POWERful Women” is not about seeking a takeover nor about wanting people to be promoted; for reasons other than the individual’s ability. What POWERful Women is all about is providing the network and support for women to make the most of their talents and skills.”

For more information see the powerful women website

Notes:

  • According to Eversheds, on average only 12.8 per cent of jobs in the energy sector are held by women and 12.5 per cent of directors on energy company boards are female.
  • According to PWC, women occupy only 11% of seats on the board of directors of oil & gas companies.
Published 12 June 2014