Honest conversations lead to better diversity and inclusion, so a big thank you to everyone who joined us to make our Annual Conference on Tuesday 22nd November such a success.
It was a packed event with over 600 registrations (in-person and online) and the overwhelming feedback was that it was full of insights and challenges, honest conversations and positive, practical tips for moving us closer to a gender-balanced, diverse and inclusive UK energy sector.
We heard from incredible speakers from government, business leadership and the energy sector, to whom we extend our grateful thanks.
Sarah Munby, Permanent Secretary at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) launched the day with a warning that “A lack of women in the senior team is the canary in the coal mine for companies that aren’t changing quickly enough.”
Our Chair, Katie Jackson, reminded us of the data on female representation in the energy sector, which reveals that women are still under-represented (holding only 15% of executive director roles, for example) and that we must step up our ambitions. She launched the new POWERful Women target of “40 by 30” and welcomed the support of the 18 organisations in the Energy Leaders’ Coalition, who published their annual report on their progress and future plans.
In Panel Session 1, Loraine Martins OBE, PfW Board Member and Global Director for D&I at The Nichols group moderated a truly inspiring debate on what a good inclusive culture and diversity look like in a company, with business leaders and experts from outside the energy sector: Liv Garfield OBE, CEO, Severn Trent, Fiona Hathorn, CEO, Women on Boards UK, Ria Johal, Programme Manager, Amazon, Maham El-Shoura, Associate Partner, Bain & Company, Vanessa Vallely OBE, CEO of We Are the City. There were great insights and thought-provoking questions from the audience.
In Panel Session 2, Matthew Wright, PfW Board Member and Head of Strategy and Regulation at National Grid ESO had an ‘Energy Leaders Fireside Chat’ with Monica Collings, CEO of So Energy, followed by a panel discussion including Sinéad Obeng Environmental Products Regulatory Affairs Manager at Shell and Tom Glover, UK Country Chair for RWE. They reflected on how the energy sector can deliver change and why it matters, sharing their personal experiences. There were challenging points from both the panel and the audience, great examples of initiatives that the ELC companies find are working, and honest reflections on what’s not working and why.
Over lunch we were delighted to be joined by our ‘speed mentors’, four high profile energy industry women who made themselves available with their advice for aspiring women: Ruth Cairnie, Board Chair of Babcock International, Frances Morris-Jones, Non-Executive Director, Lamé Verre, Head of Strategy, Innovation and Sustainability at SSE and Nina Skorupska CBE, CEO of the REA.
And the afternoon was devoted to practical action – with five interactive workshops from D&I experts:
Sarah-Jane Georges of Steps explored how to have difficult conversations; D&I Consultant Peter Duff explored how to be an effective ally; Simon Fanshaw of Diversity by Design (and PfW Board Member) explored how to be an inclusive leader; Alasdair James Scott of PDT Global explored intersectionality; and our two Board Members Francis Gugen and Elizabeth Baxter ran a workshop on the outcomes of our research on women in middle management and how to embed it into companies D&I action plans and cultures.
JUST SOME OF THE DAY’S TAKEAWAYS …
Closing the conference, Francis Gugen urged delegates to “hang onto what you’ve heard today and commit to taking back one thing to act on tomorrow morning”.
You can watch the full recording of the Conference’s morning sessions here.
And if you or your organisation would like to explore some of the afternoon workshop topics, do contact the expert providers, to whom we are extremely grateful.