Energy sector continues to lag behind UK industries in developing senior female talent – new report

Energy sector continues to lag behind UK industries in developing senior female talent – new report

Only 6% of executive boards seats in top 100 UK-headquartered energy firms are held by women – a fifth of PfW’s target of 30% by 2030

· Number of board seats held by women remains static at 9%, in contrast to UK FTSE100 industry-wide levels of 26.1%

A new report by PwC in association with POWERful Women (PfW), an industry body that promotes female leadership in the energy sector, exposes a marked lack of progress in the number of females in senior energy positions over the last 12 months.

One year on from the launch of the ‘Igniting Change – building the pipeline of female leaders in energy’1 report, which reviewed the number of senior women working in the industry, the latest analysis shows that despite widespread recognition of the benefits of gender equality, the dial hasn’t been shifted on the ground.

The inaugural report, researched and produced by PwC, revealed that of the top 89 UK-headquartered energy companies2 (including oil and gas, power and renewables), 61% had no females on their board while only 7% had at least 25% female board representation.

According to Igniting Change 2, these figures have only shifted by 1% year on year.

The new analysis also reveals that:

· The number of board seats held by women remains static at 9%

· Only 6% of UK energy firms sampled had female executive board members (previously 5%) – a fifth of PfW’s executive board level target of 30% by 2030.

· The proportion of female board executives across key energy sectors has also remained unchanged (nuclear: 8%/ oil and gas: 7%) with the exception of Power and Utilities which has risen by 1% to 18%.

The numbers are in stark contrast to the Women on Boards (Davies Review’s) latest update, which shows that the percentage of women on UK boards overall had increased to 26.1%.

The report’s original recommendations still stand. There clearly needs to be a stronger, more determined focus from CEOs to take a lead.

Ruth Cairnie, Chair, POWERful Women, says, “I really fear that Energy is standing still while many other sectors are now making progress, and at a time when Energy needs diversity more than ever. We need leaders to show real leadership, they are the key.”

More women need to be encouraged to take up careers in energy at all levels and PfW will continue to work with and encourage all concerned to take more action and ensure the industry doesn’t lag further behind others in the UK.

While the 2015 report exposed the gap between the inspiring stories of many senior women in the energy sector, and the overall poor statistics, the latest update has simply cemented this worrying trend – and put a spotlight on the need for attitudes to change more consistently across the sector.

Sir Philip Hampton, Chair of the women on boards review, comments, “The POWERful Women initiative, with its clear focus on improving women’s representation at senior levels within the energy sector, is an excellent example of the businesses themselves leading the change. It also shines a welcome spotlight on the highly capable women available within the sector.”

In interviews with senior female figures, their responses diverged from the actual quantitative results of the analysis. As part of this research, PwC has interviewed over 50 prominent figures (both male and female) in the energy sector to understand their stories, their thoughts on what the barriers are for women in energy, and how those barriers might be overcome.

Laura Manson-Smith, PwC energy partner and co-author of the report, comments,

“When we launched our Igniting Change report last year there was widespread shock at the low numbers recorded and recognition of the strong focus needed to drive change across organisation, from developing a sustainable pipeline of young women recruits to strong female leaders.

“The latest figures show that this general acceptance hasn’t translated into action – and that’s not good enough. The industry should be worried by these numbers and ask why is it so different from others and why does it seem so difficult to change?”

To drive this change, PfW is working with other organisations which are active in the same space, such as the WISE campaign to promote careers for women in science, technology and engineering. PfW is also encouraging energy companies to work together more actively: providing a hub for them to share good practice and learn from each other.

In response to the trends highlighted in the 2015 Igniting Change report, further efforts have also been made to bring forward the cohort of women in senior management positions whose next career aspiration is to secure a Board position. The PfW mentoring scheme, POWERful Connections, is a growing network – which demonstrates the building appetite for change within the sector.

– ENDS –

For more information, please contact:

Maria Blakley, Project Manager – POWERful Women, e:

Katie Crabb, Communications Manager, Energy Institute, e:

Lynn Hunter, Communications Manager, PwC, e:

Notes to editor

1. The inaugural Igniting Change report, was launched in February 2015 and can be accessed via

2. The Igniting Change 2 report analyses a range of published data including annual reports filed in 2015. The report can be accessed via

About POWERful Women (PfW)

The organisation was founded by Baroness Sandip Verma and Laura Sandys MP in June 2014 to advance the professional growth and leadership development of women in the energy sector. The organisation brings together a mix of industrial, academic and political leaders spanning exploration, energy generation and supply, energy efficiency, technology, government and consumer issues. It works to support and encourage energy companies to appoint more women to senior roles as part of building stronger businesses and adapting to changing markets. Its aim is to see 30% of energy sector Board positions to be held by women and 40% of senior management positions to be held by women by 2030.