Diversity and inclusion have been on the business agenda for a number of
years, yet the energy industry, to date, does not have a strong track record in
the area of encouraging and nurturing diverse talent. This is true of cultural,
racial and disability diversity, and in particularly gender diversity. There
women in oil and gas jobs than almost any other major industry,
accounting for less than one quarter of employees in the sector worldwide – and
these figures grow smaller the higher up the business ladder you go.
With the oil, gas and energy sector currently undergoing a period of change and
disruption, now seems an opportune moment to examine the industry’s bias and take
steps to encourage a more gender diverse workforce.
A state of affairs: Gender diversity in oil and gas
While women make up 22% of employees in the oil and gas industry
worldwide, according to Catalyst, this gender diversity increases with
seniority. Entry-level positions are comprised of 27% women, 17% are at senior
and executive-level positions and just 1% of oil
and gas CEOs are women.
The lack of women in technical and field roles is partly to blame for
the lack of female representation at the top levels of oil and gas, as these
roles are often stepping stones to advancement. Women are more likely to hold
positions in support functions such as human resources, information technology
and legal, with less representation across manufacturing, engineering and
While the lack of women is an industry-wide problem, there are companies
taking active steps to improve. Canada’s PrairieSky
Royalty Ltd has a management team that is 75% female, including 50% of senior
management, while Pink Petro is a community and resource aimed at disrupting
the energy industry’ gender gap.
In recent years we’ve seen Vicki Hollup appointed as the first female
CEO of a ‘big oil’ firm and Oil and Gas UK launching an oil and gas diversity
network. Other forms of diversity are being addressed in Energy UK’s Pride in
Energy network, which is a diversity forum for LGBT+ members of the energy
industry. However, the latest statistics within the industry – and particularly
at the highest level – suggest more clearly needs to be done to encourage
diversity within oil and gas.
Why gender diversity matters
Diversity has many business benefits, beyond simply contributing to a
fair and equal workplace and society. It’s long been reported that
organisations with diverse workforces perform better financially, and a report
from the Peterson Institute for International Economics echoes this sentiment,
showing that women leaders can add 6% to a business’s bottom line.
research shows that companies in the top quartile for executive team gender
diversity are 21% more likely to experience above-average profitability than
those in the fourth quartile, with a 33% likelihood when executive teams are in
the top quartile for ethnic and cultural diversity.
Within oil and gas, 94% of EY’s
survey respondents believe that diversity of thought and
experience are key to navigating the industry’s high levels of disruption, with
the vast majority saying that diversity contributes to both financial and
nonfinancial business performance. Yet the oil and gas industry has long
struggled to attract, retain and promote women.
Industry job cuts and retirements that have plagued the industry over
the past years – not to mention the unprecedented industry shutdown through coronavirus
– means the market will likely see a shortage of petrotechnical professionals
when oil production is reprioritised and exploration and production investments
rebound. This talent gap presents a clear opportunity to attract more diverse
teams, ushering in new skillsets to accommodate digital change and provide more
innovative, creative thinking.
Encouraging gender diversity within oil and gas
It's clear the oil, gas and energy sector still has some way to go
before truly being diverse, particularly when it comes to attracting and
promoting women. However, there are clear steps companies can take to play
their part in creating a more inclusive future.
Oil and gas companies can work to demonstrate the career opportunities
and development potential available to women. If such progression is difficult
to identify and express, this presents another challenge: examining why women
are not advancing within organisations and putting procedures in place to help
improve these outcomes.
Many oil and gas organisations have implemented diversity goals on their
recruitment teams, as well as creating internal communities of support. The
likes of BP, Shell, Spirit Energy, Expro and Worley have signed the AXIS Pledge, which asks companies
working in Aberdeen’s energy sector to understand the underlying reasons behind
their gender gap and take positive actions to close it.
Companies can also take a proactive approach to future-proof their
talent pipeline by investing in science, technology, engineering and
mathematics programmes for young people, and particularly for girls.
Apprenticeships, mentoring and training programmes can be created to encourage
more women to enter and progress oil and gas careers, while managers must
provide high-performing women with the experiences required to develop their
Above all, a complete culture shift is required to address the lack of
diversity within oil, gas and energy and encourage more women to build their
careers in this sector.
Stay up to date with Petroplan
The oil and gas sector faces considerable challenges in the near future,
including an ageing workforce, demand for technological skills and uncertainty
about the post-Covid-19 landscape. By not encouraging more women into the
sector, companies risk missing out on the innovation, insight and profit that
diverse teams can generate, and may fail to capitalise on opportunities for
growth in the future.
At Petroplan, we understand how important gender diversity is to achieve
not only a more balanced workforce, but also better business results. We’re led
by a predominantly female Board of Directors, with a female CEO, providing
strong leadership and a client-led management structure. This allows us to
ensure clients receive unrivalled service levels and quality candidates to meet
their specific needs.
We have a strong focus on industry news and developments. With deep
experience in our sectors and strong relationships with candidates and clients
alike, we make it our business to know what’s going on in oil and gas. Whether
it’s diversity, future planning or crisis coordination, we are always happy to
talk about the industry issues affecting you. Contact us to start