29 Mar POWERful Women celebrates International Women’s Day 2023
On 8th March we joined thousands around the world to celebrate International Women’s Day and the many amazing women working in the energy sector. True to our mission to work towards a gender balanced industry in the UK, we held events to support women in their careers and also challenged companies to go faster and better towards our “40 by 30” target for women in leadership and middle management.
We, our Board and leaders in the sector #EmbracedEquity, with ideas on how we can challenge bias, stereotypes and discrimination and why it’s essential for the energy transition. We also supported the UN Women’s theme of #DigitALL – supporting innovation and technology for gender equality.
“I embrace equity in the energy sector because, for a successful transition to Net Zero we need to embrace diverse talent and innovation and do better at looking like the communities we serve.”
– Katie Jackson, Chair of POWERful Women
“Equity is recognising that each person has different resources and opportunities and seeking to provide what each individual needs.”
– Elizabeth Baxter, Director of Project Finance, Sonnedix
Events for women in energy
We held not one, but two free online events especially designed to give practical support and advice to women in developing their careers.
On 6th March, Work On Your Terms ran a popular 90-minute masterclass on how to make work a place where you can thrive, not just survive. Attendees explored how they could get clarity on their talents (not their competencies) and in which context they flourish, making it easier to see if future roles and/or projects will be a good match. It also gave insights on how we can craft our current role so that we can enjoy it (even) more.
On 8th March, leading Executive Coach Pamela Taylor ran a taster session on Mental Fitness and ‘building self-confidence in challenging times’. More than 100 attendees had a great discussion and were given some fantastically useful tips, such as:
- It starts with recognising and labelling our internal saboteurs (eg hyper-achiever, pleaser, avoider, controller etc)
- We can choose to not let them run our life, causing stress, anxiety and unhappiness (what’s the point?)
- Looking instead for the gift and opportunity in a situation generates the highest success AND sustained happiness. But developing the positive mental fitness muscle takes time and practice.
Exploring how we can accelerate diversity, equity and inclusion
We also wanted to identify the barriers to gender balance and explore solutions, so throughout the day we invited insights from our network.
Firstly, we asked “What concrete actions can leaders, line managers and organisations take to #EmbraceEquity and move faster towards a gender-balanced energy sector?”
Comments included: “get comfortable being uncomfortable and have the conversations you’d prefer to avoid”; “many are afraid of saying the wrong thing and also might think it’s someone else’s job to lead the conversation”; “challenge traditional management structures”; “ask if a position can be a job share (at all levels)”; “ask if a position can be worked in a flexible way”; and “ensure job descriptions invite people to recognise it’s OK not tick all the boxes as long as they have a desire to learn and grow”.
In a poll we asked: “How can men act as allies in the workplace to support a diverse, inclusive and gender-balanced industry?”. The most popular suggestion (with 40% of votes) said ‘ask women and educate themselves’. Second choice (35%) was ‘mentor or sponsor a woman’, third (17%) was ‘create or join an allies network’ and fourth (8%) was ‘work to KPIs and targets’.
In a second poll we asked: “How important is data to you or your organisation in driving and measuring progress?” The good news was that almost all respondents recognised the importance of data and 28% said they had what they needed. However, the majority (48%) said that while data is important, they struggle to get it. A fifth of respondents said that policies and programs matter more.
International Women’s Day also saw the release of important new data on female representation in the global nuclear sector, showing that women make up only a quarter of the industry, just 20.6% of STEM roles and less than 20% of upper management and executive roles. The report from the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency also set out a useful roadmap of actions towards gender balance.
Supporting energy company action
As well as our own events, insights and resources, this year’s IWD was also an opportunity for us to engage directly with a number of companies on how they can advance diversity and inclusion. We love to talk to organisations and their people at all levels to share ideas and good practice and to explore the most effective next steps.
Our Project Manager, Georgina Worrall, was invited to speak at the Equal Footing (gender equality) global network at Wood, a member of our Energy Leaders’ Coalition. There was a great global turnout and a strong takeaway from the discussion was the importance of visible role modelling – not just showcasing successful women but demonstrating what inclusive leadership and supportive line management looks like too.
Georgina also spoke at Ventient Energy’s internal IWD event about the current state of female representation in UK energy and the work of POWERful Women to address this.
Our Project Officer, Grace Kimberley, was invited to speak to Vortexa for their Women in Energy Webinar, alongside other female leaders and change makers. She spoke on the importance of gender diversity in the energy sector – for companies’ performance, talent attraction and retention, innovation and the energy transition – and showed the journey we need to make to gender balance.
Celebrating trailblazing women
We closed International Women’s Day 2023 with a reminder that it was also Women’s History Month and every week throughout March POWERful Women has been putting the spotlight on a trailblazing woman from energy history. For IWD we celebrated computer scientist Annie Easley who worked on the NASA space program and conducted ground-breaking energy research on solar, wind and battery technology. Follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter to see all five of our ‘Wednesday Women’ for Women’s History Month … and more!