Of the top 100 UK-headquartered energy companies, 61% have no women on their board, and only 5% of executive board seats are held by women.
So when POWERful Women asked this question:
“What should equality in the energy industry look like?”
The answer was clearly: ‘No!”.
Julia Clarke – who has joined Scottish Energy News as Energy Policy Consultant after a 15 year career representing the consumer interest with Which? in Scotland – commented:
“While organisations like the Department of Energy (DECC), Alstom, Dong Energy, British Gas, EON, Good Energy, RES, PGS, EDF Energy and others are already committing to do more to rebalance the number of women at the top of their organisations, there is still far more to do.
“And despite the presence of strong women in politics in Scotland – First Minister Nicola Sturgeon perhaps being the most prominent – this representation is not particularly well reflected in energy companies, either north or south of the border.”
For more information:
POWERful Women: www.powerfulwomen.org.uk
Women’s Engineering Society: www.wes.org.uk
Photography by Martin Gammon www.hereandnowphotography.com
Meanwhile, SANDY STASH, Group Vice President of Safety, Sustainability and External Affairs at Tullow Oil – who has nearly three decades of experience working in oil and gas – discusses her career and what needs to be done to improve the positions of women in the energy sector.
Tell us about your career
I am a petroleum engineer by degree. I have spent over 30 years in oil and gas and hard-rock mining. A third of my career was spent as a drilling and project engineer in the field – largely on rigs. Then I spent around 10 years running a mining company – which was unusual in that it ended up with the closure of several mines and smelters. I needed to deal with societal issues and environmental concerns resulting from the closures. This led me to then ultimately manage a portfolio of businesses that were sold off – but that had legacy liabilities. I spent the bulk of the last 10 plus years working internationally. With this, I left general management and went into more functional roles. I have managed both technical and non-technical risks – running everything from a technical directorate to HSSE to government and public affairs to communities – all in all a broad spectrum of areas. My career has availed me to work on six continents and in a number of companies.
Who has been the single biggest influence?
That is an interesting one. I don’t have a single answer but I would say that I had a couple of bosses who were willing to throw me in at the deep end of the pool to do jobs that were bigger than I was when they took a chance on me. It gave me the opportunity to prove myself. That is what I try to do with my staff. I try to give people a much bigger job than where they are in their career – and then give them all the support I can to help them to succeed.
What was the make or break point?
I spent 25 years with one version or another of the same company, albeit in different jobs. When I was 48, I left that company, and I was looking for a new job for the first time since I had left college. I learnt how to market myself and create career opportunities. I would not have had this opportunity without having changed employers. What I found was that it was good fun to take a risk and change paths.
What is the best advice you have ever been given?
These are hard questions! I was a commencement speaker a couple weeks ago and the advice I gave the students was advice I received years ago. The advice is to speak out even if you are not 100% confident of giving a correct or smart answer. When you are having that inevitable momentary lack of confidence – take a look around the room and realize that no one else really knows what they are talking about either – and then take the chance.
What is the one thing you would do to improve the position of women in the energy sector?
In the energy sector I think there needs to be a concerted effort to get and keep women on the general management and CEO/COO track. Even with women from technical and commercial backgrounds, there seems to be a propensity to slot women into senior support – rather than business roles. I would really get very pointed and strategic about keeping women on the general management track. There are women that have every bit of the talent and potential to be CEOs and COOs.
What can organisations do to prepare high-achieving women in their companies for senior roles and board positions?
Number one – give women those opportunities to run the businesses and to take on other big roles. It has to be a targeted and strategic effort. There is a propensity to go with the guys who have done the job before – and not give women the opportunity. Give them the job and then all the support they need to be successful.
* Ann Johnson, Finance Director, Blaze Manufacturing Solutions, which is based in Laurencekirk, will speak at a chamber of commerce meeting tomorrow (1 July) on how she helped grow the business from a garden shed start-up in 2006 to today’s position as a special safety supplier to the oil and gas industry which employs more than 30 people and which works with more than 60 contractors.
If so, tell JULIA CLARKE