New campaign to boost females in top roles

Women in power company boardrooms ‘would do a better job’

Women in energyPutting more women into executive roles in Britain’s energy companies would lead to better decision-making, according to a new survey.

Research has shown that women account for only 5% of directors in the biggest 100 energy firms. But 61% or nearly two-thirds of those surveyed said the most compelling reason for hiring more women would be to improve the quality of decisions.

A report from PwC and industry body POWERful Women calls for a dramatic rise in the number of women at the top of the energy sector.

It says it would improve future decision making, bring fresh perspectives, enhance trust among stakeholders and even strengthen the industry in the long term.

The authors want  40% of energy company middle management and 30% of executive board to be female by 2030.

But they admit there is a hill to climb. The report, Igniting Change: building the pipeline of female leaders in energy, reveals that just 5% of executive board seats are currently held by women while 61% of leadership boards have no women present at all.

When assessed against the Davies Report target of 25% female board representation by 2015, the report found that women account for only 9% of all board seats in the top 100 UK- headquartered energy firms compared to 21% across the wider UK FTSE 100.

The report lays out a route map which it believes could drive gender diversity across the industry from oil and gas to utilities and nuclear and renewables and help achieve PfW’s targets.

Laura Manson-Smith, PwC energy partner and co-author of the report, said: “The current statistics on women in the energy industry make depressing reading. And while it is certainly too simplistic to say it must be a 50/50 split across all sectors, it is abundantly clear that equality doesn’t look like the landscape we’re in now.

” It’s time to ignite change if we are to secure a bright future for the UK energy industry in what is an increasingly competitive global marketplace.

“What is encouraging is that of those men and women surveyed, 91% were clear that they would recommend a career in energy to their daughters.  We hope our report will be a catalyst for change in 2015, helping to create a brighter future for both this and the next generation throughout the energy industry.”

Baroness Verma, co-founder of POWERful Women and Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Department of Energy and Climate Change, said:  “This report comes at an important moment for the country’s energy sector. As we transform the way we generate and use energy, we must also transform the disparity of representation of women at the top table. Indeed, a more diverse pool of talent will be crucial to maintaining the UK’s position in the global market and addressing a loss of consumer trust in the sector.

Igniting Change clearly shows that everyone has a role to play – from CEOs and senior management to HR departments and individuals themselves. Together, my hope is that we’ll be able to reach POWERFUL Women’s ambition of ensuring that 30% of executive energy company board members and 40% of energy company middle management are female by 2030.”

Jo Swinson, UK Minister for Women and Equalities, said: “This is a step in the right direction, and I hope that the energy sector rapidly progresses to meet the levels achieved by other industries in the FTSE 100.

“We need to ensure that girls are aware of the opportunities of careers available in the energy sector, and that they are not facing unnecessary barriers in moving up the ranks. It is vital that the diversity of skills and experience of women in business is understood and valued, and I look forward to the industry meeting – and succeeding – it’s targets.”

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