By REBECCA SHEARER
Baroness Verma recently launched POWERful Women (PfW) – a new, professional initiative to showcase female leadership potential in the UK’s energy sector.
Recent research published by law firm Eversheds shows that on average only 12.8% of jobs in the energy sector are held by women and 12.5% of directors on energy company boards are female. PfW believes that a much stronger female influence is needed at the top table.
Juliet Davenport, Founder and Chief Executive, Good Energy plc, is one of the founding members of PfW, and here she explains her motivation for taking part, provides advice for women in the energy sector, and summarises some of the main challenges facing the industry.
“The energy sector faces massive political and consumer challenges, at the same time as going through a period of great structural change. We need a diverse set of ideas and views to be able to fix the problems the sector has.
“Having more women in the sector will help to ensure that we have a mix of views, can understand much more about what customers want, and are able to deliver a new set of innovative solutions to match those expectations.
“I’m a founding member of the POWERful Women Network which aims to advance the professional growth and leadership development of women in the energy sector. Seeking a mentor is a great idea in my opinion.
“I think women can really benefit from a mentoring arrangement which can give you confidence in your own ability to progress. Everyone needs role models and people they can look up to and ask for advice. I have benefitted from a mentor and we encourage it at Good Energy.
“Traditionally science and engineering roles have been viewed as a job for men. Of course, this is absolutely not the case. We need far greater diversity in the energy sector in order to widen the talent pool and push the industry forward. This in turn will lead to greater diversity in thinking, business practice and new ideas.
“The number of women obtaining Engineering and Technology degrees increased by 21% between 2008 and 2012, so hopefully the future is a bit brighter. I’m proud that Good Energy is leading the way in this area – our Board is a 50/50 split of men and women, as is our Executive and workforce as whole.”
Explaining her decision to set up Good Energy, Davenport said: “It really came out of my interest and studies in climate change. It was obvious to me that energy is the key to the solution and that renewables are the logical and pragmatic answer.
“One of our biggest concerns relates to levels of support for solar power and onshore wind from policy-makers. Both are continuing to come down in cost, are popular with the public and are a vital part of the UK energy mix, so we would like to see more support for this technology – rather than less, which is a serious possibility if some proposed policy changes are implemented due to the levy control framework.
“Security of supply, affordability for consumers and the need to decarbonise the power sector are the biggest issues. Renewables are the answer to all three.
“In the UK we imported over 60% of the fuel it used to generate electricity in 2012, up by 12% on 2011. Renewables have the power to reduce UK reliance on foreign fuel imports, giving us greater security and stability of supply.”
Good Energy Group plc was founded in May 2000 to lower UK carbon emissions by developing and distributing renewable energy within the UK.
One of the Group’s key purposes is to provide individuals and companies in the UK with a means by which they can reduce their contribution to the causes of climate change through selecting the Group to be their energy supplier.
The Witshire-based group is a vertically integrated utility, which sources 100% of its electricity from renewable sources. The Group supplies over 46,000 domestic and commercial customers, and supplies gas to over 20,000 domestic customers. It also supports a growing community of over 66,000 independent green power generators across the UK.
Founder and Chief Executive Juliet Davenport graduated from Merton College, Oxford in 1989, where she studied Atmospheric Physics and developed her interest in climate change. Before entering the private sector, she worked at the European Commission on European energy policy and later at the European parliament on carbon taxation.