Not enough POWERful women in Scottish energy sector, says new expert report


Laura Manson-Smith, energy partner, PwC
Laura Manson-Smith, energy partner, PwC

There are not enough ‘POWERful’ women in the Scottish energy sector, according to a new report commissioned by the UK Department of Energy (DECC).

The report, produced by Price Waterhouse, was officially announced at a reception in Westminster by Baroness Sandy Verma, Minister for Energy and Climate Change in the House of Lords. It shows that:

  • Only 5% of executive boards seats in top 100 UK-headquartered energy firms are held by women 
  • 61% of those surveyed in the report believe the most compelling commercial reason for increased gender diversity is better decision making, and
  • Call for 40% of energy company middle management and 30% of executive board to be female by 2030

The report calls for a dramatic rise in the number of women entering, staying in and reaching the highest levels of the energy industry, a move it says would improve future decision making, bring fresh perspectives, enhance stakeholder trust and strengthen the UK energy industry in the long term.

When assessed against the Davies Report target of 25% female board representation by 2015, the report found that women account for only 9% of all board seats in the top 100 UK- headquartered energy firms compared to 21% across the wider UK FTSE 1003.

The report lays out a route map which it believes could drive gender diversity across the industry from oil and gas to utilities and nuclear and renewables and help achieve PfW’s target of ensuring females hold 40% of energy company middle management positions and 30% of executive board seats by 2030.

Laura Manson-Smith, PwC energy partner and co-author of the report, said: “The current statistics on women in the energy industry make depressing reading.

“While it is certainly too simplistic to say it must be a 50/50 split across all sectors, it is abundantly clear that equality doesn’t look like the landscape we’re in now.  It’s time to ignite change if we are to secure a bright future for the UK energy industry in what is an increasingly competitive global marketplace.

“While writing this report we unearthed some great examples of women who have carved out fantastic careers in energy. While these stories are thought-provoking and inspiring, they are not by any means standard or every day. Much more needs to be done if we are to normalise women’s ambitions for a rewarding career path.

“What is encouraging is that of those men and women surveyed, 91% were clear that they would recommend a career in energy to their daughters.  We hope our report will be a catalyst for change in 2015, helping to create a brighter future for both this and the next generation throughout the energy industry.”


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Based on extensive research including over 40 interviews, analysis of PwC and Opportunity Now’s Project 28 – 40 energy data, and a poll of over 100 PfW Ambassadors, Igniting Change outlines barriers and practical recommendations for the way forward.

The report adds; “Chief executives and senior managers must lead by example, not only by setting – and delivering on – targets and actively promoting diversity across their organisation but by creating a diverse leadership team and challenging bias.

It also highlights the need to attract more women across the wider energy spectrum from traditionally ‘heavier’ areas such as oil and gas extraction to energy regulation and renewables. It suggests that in order to boost the number of entrants into the industry, from school leavers and higher education graduates to experienced hires, the industry needs to better understand the full range of opportunities on offer and reposition itself as an important, innovative and exciting workplace for men and women alike.

Baroness Verma
Baroness Verma

Baroness Verma said: “This report comes at an important moment for the country’s energy sector. As we transform the way we generate and use energy, we must also transform the disparity of representation of women at the top table.

“Indeed, a more diverse pool of talent will be crucial to maintaining the UK’s position in the global market and addressing a loss of consumer trust in the sector.”

Jo Swinson, (MP, LibDem, East Dunbartonshire) UK Minister for Women and Equalities commented: “We need to ensure that girls are aware of the opportunities of careers available in the energy sector, and that they are not facing unnecessary barriers in moving up the ranks.

“It is vital that the diversity of skills and experience of women in business is understood and valued, and I look forward to the industry meeting – and succeeding – its targets.”




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