Turning words into action: leading energy employers invest in measures to improve gender diversity and inclusion in the energy sector


  • 2023 report sets out coalition’s progress on female representation
  • Safe space for learning continues to drive change
  • New company DEI initiatives launched in past 12 months
  • Joint achievements include first-of-its-kind cross-industry recruitment campaign
  • Progress to 40% targets still slow and coalition pledges to step up work


A focus on investing in the diverse skills, strengths and talent needed for the UK’s energy future has seen positive results inside some of the largest energy employers in the past year, according to the Fifth Annual Report of the Energy Leaders’ Coalition (ELC) [1], published today. 

The ELC is a unique gathering of 16 energy company leaders – between them representing nearly two-thirds of the UK energy workforce – alongside the CEOs of Ofgem and the North Sea Transition Authority working together to drive better diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). 

Building on public commitments made last year, 2023 has seen a raft of new and improved company initiatives designed to attract, develop and retain female talent, particularly at middle management level.


Examples and their impact include:

  • establishment of an Executive Committee to accelerate diversity and inclusion from the top
  • launch of new DEI strategies, including internal campaigns to create a more supportive culture. One company saw staff turnover rate fall by 25%.
  • introduction of equal parent leave and improvements to paid partner and family leave, including those on the journey to parenthood
  • tools to address bias in recruitment, such as gendered language, resulting in better quality candidates
  • promoting part-time and flexible working as a positive career option, leading to more female applications
  • training for line managers, including how to be an ally and champion women’s development
  • new leadership development programmes, and a female talent sponsorship scheme that has led to 39% of sponsees being promoted
  • establishment of women’s networks and other employee forums
  • widening diversity and inclusion expectations out to companies’ supply chains.


Highlights of the year have been two pieces of collaborative work by the ELC:

  1. Empower Her In Energy, a first-of-its kind joint marketing campaign to attract young women into the UK energy sector as an exciting place to work. It was shortlisted for the UK Social Media Awards and in one company drove a 225% increase in applications.
  2. Addressing the particular barriers faced by women in middle management. In a detailed progress review published as part of the Annual Report, the companies share what they have done in the past year to cultivate and retain female talent at this mid-career level.


This year’s Annual Report also includes more detailed data on the number of women the companies employ at all levels, showing that:

  • 10 of the 16 companies have so far achieved the 2025 40% women on boards target
  • 5 of these companies have gone further and have 50:50 gender parity on their board
  • 3 companies have already met PfW’s 2030 target for 40% women in leadership
  • 3 companies have met the same target for women in middle management
  • the ELC average for women in leadership is up 1% on last year, at 33%
  • Ofgem and the NSTA have exceeded 40% for women in leadership/executive roles


Chris O’Shea, Group Chief Executive of Centrica and this year’s Chair of the ELC, said;

“The Energy Leaders’ Coalition provides a unique safe space for energy CEOs to share, learn and challenge each other on what works and what doesn’t when it comes to accelerating diversity and inclusion. We believe transparency around data will help to drive improvement and it’s clear that while the number of women in our companies is rising, our progress is too slow. So the ELC has responded strongly this year to turn our commitments into concrete actions.

We launched a first-of-its kind joint marketing campaign to attract young women into the industry, which we will expand next year.  And our Annual Report reveals a whole raft of very exciting company initiatives that I believe will make a real difference. From better equal parenting policies and removing bias from recruitment, to embedding DEI goals throughout our companies and reporting transparently on progress to driving change in the wider supply chain. If we don’t have more women in our industry, we cannot possibly claim to have the best workforce, so our focus is now on closing the gender gap, so that we have the best talent for the energy transition.

It has been a privilege chairing the ELC during 2023 and I know our Chair for 2024, Alistair Phillips-Davies, is as committed to driving change as I am.”


Duncan Clark, Head of Region for Ørsted UK, and sponsor for the middle management work, said;

“This year we have focused on the significant career development barriers faced by women in middle management roles, including access to professional development, ensuring flexible working policies actually deliver for women, the lack of visible female role models and workplace cultures that can be unsupportive.

When considering the policies and programmes designed to support and cultivate female talent, it has been invaluable to have a collaborative forum to discuss best practice and learn from mistakes. These candid discussions have provided meaningful insights that will help ensure these mistakes aren’t repeated and we can improve the effectiveness of these initiatives.

It’s vital that we build our pipeline of talent and retain skilled, experienced women. We have all pledged to continue this work, listening more to what women want and using the examples and data we’ve gathered during this year to ensure we continue to make measurable progress and set ambitious targets for ourselves and the industry.”

“As a collective we recognised the barriers around access to professional development, ensuring flexible working policies actually deliver for women, the lack of visible female role models and workplace cultures that can be unsupportive. Focussing on this at every meeting of the ELC this year has driven action, as has the requirement to track individual progress in detail. It’s vital that we build our pipeline of talent and retain skilled and experienced women. We have all pledged to continue this work, to increase our feedback loops to listen to what women really want and to target interventions where needed.”


Katie Jackson, Chair of POWERful Women, said;

“We are at a critical point in the energy transition, where we need to attract people with a diverse range of skills and experience into thousands of green jobs and also keep the female talent we already have – for better innovation, leadership and customer trust.

I  know the ELC agrees. While the data on female representation shows only a slight improvement on last year, I am confident that the huge number and variety of actions we have seen in the past 12 months will pay off and we will see the numbers to meet our target deadline of 2030.”


The ELC Annual Report is being launched today at POWERful Women’s 2023 Annual Conference: ‘Are we investing in the diverse skills, strengths and talent we need for our energy future?’. Amanda Solloway MP, Minister for Energy Consumers and Affordability is giving the keynote address, and the panels will feature distinguished speakers from energy C-suite, D&I professionals and business leaders from other sectors to discuss the gender diversity and inclusion issues of the day and to share the good practice that makes a difference to women in energy. The full programme can be found here.






Anna Stanford, Communications Adviser: +44 7961 234634  anna@powerfulwomen.org.uk




  1. Report available to download: https://powerfulwomen.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2023/12/2ELC-Fifth-Annual-Report-Nov-2023-FINAL-Web-version-with-Foreword.pdf


  1. The Energy Leaders’ Coalition, formed in May 2018, comprises:

Louise Kingham OBE, SVP Europe and Head of Country UK, bp; Dominic Kieran, Managing Director, Cavendish Nuclear; Chris O’Shea, Group Chief Executive, Centrica plc; Will Gardiner, CEO, Drax ; Simone Rossi, Chief Executive, EDF Energy; Kevin Dibble, UK Country Manager, Engie Group; Chris Norbury, CEO, E.ON UK; Cordi O’Hara, President, UK Electricity Distribution, National Grid; Stuart Payne, CEO, North Sea Transition Authority; Jonathan Brearley, CEO, Ofgem; Duncan Clark, Head of Region, Ørsted UK; Tom Glover, UK Country Chair, RWE; Keith Anderson, Chief Executive, ScottishPower; David Bunch, UK Country Chair, Shell UK; Monica Collings, CEO, So Energy; Alistair Phillips-Davies, Chief Executive, SSE; John Evans, CEO, Subsea 7; Craig Shanaghey, President – Operations EMEA, Wood


About POWERful Women

POWERful Women (PfW) is a professional initiative working to achieve a gender-balanced, diverse and inclusive energy sector in the UK to meet the needs of a net zero future.  Our new target is for at least 40% of middle management and leadership roles to be held by women by 2030. To deliver this we work with business leaders, D&I experts, government, the regulators, aspiring women and partner organisations to accelerate change. We support, challenge and connect: publishing research and annual statistics on female representation in the industry; encouraging collaboration, learning and sharing through the Energy Leaders’ Coalition; running a mentoring programme for women; providing practical career and D&I resources, case studies and guidance; communicating the benefits of better diversity and inclusion; and running networking and learning events. Find out more at www.powerfulwomen.org.uk