Progress on women on UK energy companies’ boards stalls despite progress on wider female leadership

Progress on women on UK energy companies’ boards stalls despite progress on wider female leadership



LONDON—22 May, 2024—Representation of women in the top leadership of the UK’s major energy companies is stagnating, with progress at board level having stalled, annual analysis released today by POWERful Women (PfW), in collaboration with Bain & Company, reveals.

The proportion of women in both executive and non-executive roles on energy employers’ boards is now 29%, unchanged from 2023’s figure, the analysis shows. Only 16% – just over a sixth – of executive directors are women, also unchanged from last year, while just  three of the businesses’ boards (4%) have a female chair and only four companies of the 80 analysed (5%) have a woman as CEO.

In addition, 20% of the 80 UK energy companies still have no female representation at all at board level (a marginal improvement from 21% last year) and almost three-quarters (74%) have no female board directors.

The figures, in PfW’s Annual State of the Nation report on diversity at the UK’s leading energy businesses, representing a combined workforce of more than 190,000 people, suggest that the industry continues to find it challenging to advance gender representation in leadership and key decision-making roles. PfW’s report issues a renewed call for a re-acceleration of progress towards gender balance, noting that evidence shows that boards and management will be less effective without this.


Progress for women seen in wider leadership roles

Although the past 12 months saw no progress on representation at board level in the UK energy sector’s leading companies, today’s analysis does find some positive improvement at a wider leadership level among businesses’ senior management. In 2024, 34% of leadership roles (defined as executive committee level and their direct reports) are held by women, up by three percentage points from 31% in 2023.  While this is below PfW’s 40% target for women’s representation by 2030, the report finds that continued progress at the current pace would see that target achieved.

Some 30% of companies assessed by PfW and Bain & Company (24 out of 80) have meanwhile already reached or surpassed the goal of 40% female representation at board levels, while a further 17% (12 companies) had reached 40% women holding roles as executive directors, the report notes.

Marginal improvement at middle management level is also reported in the analysis, with 32% of such roles now held by women – slightly up from 2023’s 31% figure. 


Gender representation goals remain within reach as leading businesses pave the way

While this year’s PfW analysis shows that progress towards gender balance in the sector has slowed, the report emphasises that 40% targets for female representation remain within reach. It notes that progress by companies already having achieved the goal shows that concerted efforts lead to progress.

Adding just one more woman per board this year would bridge the gap to the 40% by 2025 target for boards set by the FTSE Women Leaders Review, the report notes. Adding, on average, just five additional women to each leadership team by 2030 – fewer than one per company per year – would mean PfW’s 40% objective being reached by that time.

The report recommends that companies need a blueprint that includes a bold ambition with measurable targets and sustained leadership commitment, an actionable strategy with focussed actions to build an inclusive organisation, and investment in critical enablers including governance, resourcing, and technology and data.


Unveiling the statistics, Katie Jackson, Chair of POWERful Women, said:

“This year’s data paints a disappointing picture of how few women there still are in key decision-making roles on the boards of the UK’s energy sector, with progress stalling in the last 12 months. We do see a welcome rise in the number of women represented in the leadership pipeline and the sector is on track to meet POWERful Women’s target of 40% of these roles by 2030. But more needs to be done to improve female representation, particularly among the 20% of energy companies who, shockingly, have no women on their boards at all.”

The full report, including tables benchmarking the performance of the top 80 companies, is available to download here.


Katie Jackson added:

“As we mark our 10th anniversary, POWERful Women can celebrate the progress that’s been made since 2014, when women occupied just 9% of all energy board seats and 5% of the executive director roles. We are proud to have achieved a three-fold increase within a decade and our analysis shows that it’s possible to achieve gender parity, with leaders already paving the way. But we call on everyone to take action to appoint, develop and retain the diverse female talent that’s crucial to delivering a successful, equitable and affordable energy transition. We will continue to challenge the sector by tracking the data and will continue to support companies to overcome the remaining, most difficult challenges to a gender-balanced industry.”


Olga Muscat, Partner at Bain & Company and head of the firm’s UK Utilities Practice, commented:

“Though there is much to celebrate in terms of gender diversity efforts in the UK energy sector, the statistics show that we are clearly not moving fast enough – and need to find a way to accelerate progress. At Bain, our research and client work suggests that each company needs an actionable blueprint on DEI, which includes a bold ambition with measurable targets and sustained leadership commitment, alongside investment in critical enablers such as governance and resourcing, technology and data. Perhaps most importantly though, companies need to go beyond representation alone and truly focus on creating an inclusive organisation, as inclusion is one of the most powerful levers for both employee experience and business performance”.


The 2024 Annual State of the Nation report this year includes a suggested ‘blueprint’ of concrete actions that organisations and leaders can take to improve their diversity and inclusion, and a set of case studies spotlighting some of this year’s top performing energy companies.


Jonathan Brearley, CEO at Ofgem, the UK energy industry regulator, said:

“The energy sector must attract, develop, and retain the brightest talents for the energy transition to net zero. Diversity and inclusion are essential for creating a greener, cleaner, and more secure future, as well as an energy sector that meets customer needs.

Diversity in skills and thinking is increasingly vital to foster the innovation and leadership necessary for a secure and affordable energy transition. As we commemorate the 10th anniversary of POWERful Women’s State of the Nation report, it is the perfect time to reflect upon the progress made but also focus on what else needs to be done to achieve greater gender equality within the sector.”






POWERful Women:

Anna Stanford, Communications Adviser – +44 7961 234634


Bain & Company:

Gary Duncan, Director of Public Relations –




  1. Compilation of the 2024 statistics:

POWERful Women has collaborated with Bain & Company to gather statistics on female representation among the top 80 energy companies in the UK, selected on the basis of being the most significant employers in the UK energy industry.  In total, they are estimated to employ more than 190,000 people in the UK, thereby providing a representative view of the sector. The data was gathered through direct engagement and publicly available information correct as of end of January 2024. Only 34 and

31 of the 80 companies were able to provide us with leadership and middle management data, respectively. However, those companies are some of the largest employers in the UK energy sector—and so still provide a view of the sector.  Improvement over time is driven largely by individual company performance on representation but also slightly by the changing mix of companies over the years (with a maximum of 10% change year on year), as we adjust the list of top 80 employers each year to be representative of the energy sector.


  1. The report can be downloaded here:


  1. Infographics are available on request – email


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:  


About Bain & Company

Bain & Company is a global consultancy that helps the world’s most ambitious change makers define the future.

Across 65 cities in 40 countries, we work alongside our clients as one team with a shared ambition to achieve extraordinary results, outperform the competition, and redefine industries. We complement our tailored, integrated expertise with a vibrant ecosystem of digital innovators to deliver better, faster, and more enduring outcomes. Our 10-year commitment to invest more than $1 billion in pro bono services brings our talent, expertise, and insight to organizations tackling today’s urgent challenges in education, racial equity, social justice, economic development, and the environment. We earned a platinum rating from EcoVadis, the leading platform for environmental, social, and ethical performance ratings for global supply chains, putting us in the top 1% of all companies. Since our founding in 1973, we have measured our success by the success of our clients, and we proudly maintain the highest level of client advocacy in the industry.