Step change needed on gender diversity at the top of the UK energy sector New statistics reveal slow progress towards targets for women

Step change needed on gender diversity at the top of the UK energy sector New statistics reveal slow progress towards targets for women


Annual data released today by POWERful Women and PwC [1] reveals that representation of women in senior roles in the top c.80 largest UK energy employers has made little progress in the past 12 months.  The 2022 ‘State of the Nation’ statistics show:

  • Women occupy 15% of executive director positions – up just 1% from 2021 and only half way to POWERful Women’s target of 30% by 2030
  • Women occupy 27% of all board seats (executive and non-executive) – a rise of three percentage points on last year but still 6% off the cross-sector Hampton-Alexander target for women on boards, which was met by the FTSE 350 by its target date of 2020
  • The number of companies with all-male boards has fallen to 23% from 28%, which is positive news
  • The number of companies with no female executive directors has fallen to 75% from 78%
  • However, this means that only 20 of the top 80 UK energy companies have any women in executive director roles.
  • Progress has gone backwards on the number of companies achieving POWERful Women’s 30% target for female executive directors – from 15 to 11 companies, or just 14% of the sector.


The full table benchmarking the companies can be found here:


Katie Jackson, new Chair of POWERful Women, unveiled the statistics and said;

“While we have seen a modest increase in the number of women on boards in the largest employers of the UK energy industry, which is to be welcomed, we are disappointed that the number of women in executive director roles has risen by just one per cent to only 15%, which is glacial progress.  On this, the sector is only half way – and barely on track – to the POWERful Women target of 30% by 2030. And it remains unacceptable that in 2022 three-quarters of the sector still has no female executive directors on their board.

                                                                                                                                    /contd …

We require a step change on gender diversity in UK energy as we strive to reach net zero.

The current triple energy crisis – of price, security and climate change – does not reduce or excuse the importance of diversity.  Indeed, the solution to addressing all three can only be reached by having an energy sector truly representative of society on every dimension.  We can’t continue to ignore a vast pool of female talent that is critical for innovation, leadership and business success during the energy transition.”


UK Energy Minister, the Rt Hon Greg Hands MP, commented;

“We need better representation at the top and more women in leadership roles to drive towards our goal of clean, home-grown, affordable energy for Britain.

“I welcome the commitments that energy leaders have made but more needs to be done. I encourage the whole sector to work together and deliver real progress on gender diversity including through initiatives such as the government-backed FTSE Women Leaders Review.”

For those companies who have achieved diversity targets, a common reflection is that it is good for business.  For example, Chris O’Shea, Chief Executive of Centrica – which in this year’s statistics exceeds industry targets with 50% of executive director roles and 50% of its board occupied by women – said in November at a COP26 event that having a better gender mix gives Centrica “a competitive advantage … we’ll make better decisions, we’ll have better business outcomes.” [2]


Elisabeth Hunt, PwC Energy & Infrastructure Deals Tax partner and report sponsor, commented:

“This annual analysis holds the industry to account for its transparency and success in offering a secure and sustainable pipeline of female talent. While there are some encouraging signs in the data, it’s clear the industry still has a long way to go on diversity.  

“Firms have shown their agility in responding to a wealth of challenges from decarbonisation to more recent issues such as the Ukraine war and the cost of living crisis. If they are to achieve the 2030 targets, it’s vital they harness this speed and dexterity to drive more female talent into each sector and recognise the benefits and skills a diverse workforce and leadership team can provide.

“We’re also seeing an increase in convergence of sectors as the focus on net zero intensifies.  This brings with it a range of different mindsets and skills. Women leaders have a key role to play in nurturing and harnessing this broad talent pool, driving innovation, boosting retention and developing skills among the workforce. This needs to filter all the way down to inspire girls to engage with STEM subjects throughout their education and business has a key role to play in setting the tone for this.”

The 2022 statistics also looked at the breakdown between sectors within the energy industry and revealed that the Power & Utilities sector has more women on boards than Oil & Gas (28% v 26%) and more women in executive director roles (18% v 13%).

/contd …

However, while the number of women in executive director roles in Oil & Gas has risen quite significantly over the past year – by five percentage points, from 8% to 13%  – the number of women in these roles in Power & Utilities has remained at 18%. In other words, while still behind, Oil & Gas is making faster progress.  In the Oil & Gas sector, however, there has been no movement at all when it comes to all-male boards and executive directors – remaining at 28% and 86% of the sector respectively.

For the first time this year, executive pipeline data has also been gathered from all the companies, where available.  This revealed some positive news – women make up 29% of roles in two levels below the board (executive committees and their direct reports). 


Katie Jackson added:

“We are pleased to see women coming through the pipeline to senior positions.  As our recent report on middle management showed, we need more focus on cultivating female talent, removing mid-career barriers, ensuring consistent application of diversity policies and creating a more supportive culture.  We welcome the focus of 16 of the leading energy CEOs on this and look forward to seeing greater and faster progress this year, across the whole sector, with the support of business, government and the regulators.”





Anna Stanford, Communications Adviser, POWERful Women

Tel: +44 7961 234634




  1. Compilation of the 2021 board statistics:

Each year POWERful Women, in partnership with PwC, measures the performance of the top c. 80 UK energy companies with regard to the number of women at board and executive director level.  This year we have also compiled data on the executive pipeline (combined executive committee and direct reports) for all companies where available.  The top c.80 companies are defined by the most significant employers in the UK energy industry. Data was sourced and verified directly from companies or from publicly available sources and accurate as at April 2022.

The full set of company statistics are available here:

  1. Chris O’Shea, CEO of Centrica, speaking at COP26 event 4 November 2021: Female Leadership – Energy for the Global Energy Transition,


/contd …


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  1. About POWERful Women

POWERful Women is a professional initiative working to increase the representation of women at the top of the UK energy sector.  Our goals are to see 30% of executive board roles and 40% of middle management roles filled by women by 2030.  We do this in three ways:  campaigning and reporting (for example, annual board statistics, the Energy Leaders’ Coalition, company pledges), supporting women in their careers (for example, through our mentoring programme, POWERful Connections) and providing practical support to companies committed to better gender diversity and inclusion (for example, through D&I working groups and sharing good practice).  More information:


  1. About PwC

At PwC, our purpose is to build trust in society and solve important problems. We’re a network of firms in 156 countries with over 295,000 people who are committed to delivering quality in assurance, advisory and tax services. Find out more and tell us what matters to you by visiting us at PwC.

PwC refers to the PwC network and/or one or more of its member firms, each of which is a separate legal entity. Please see how we are structured for further details.