Advancing Women’s Leadership Skills in the Energy Industry

Okonjo-Iweala has recently been appointed the new chief of the World Trade Organisation. She will be the first woman and the first African woman to lead this Switzerland based global organisation. She is an inspiration to women all over the world.

In 2020, the Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) and the World Economic Forum (WEF) reported that those countries which had been led by women had achieved better outcomes in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic. From Jacinda Ardern, the prime minister of New Zealand, to Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel, to the newly elected US vice-president, Kamala Harris, Vogue identified 12 women leaders who helped to change the world.

In March 2020, the Advocacy group ‘Powerful Women’, in partnership with PwC, published a report on the gender balance of company boards in the energy sector. The statistics show that 21% of board seats and 13% of executive board seats are held by women. The target set by ‘Powerful Women’ is for 30% of board roles to be held by women by 2030, so although there has been progress, there is still a way to go.

In the US, there are fewer women in oil and gas than in most other major industries, as reported by Catalyst, a global non-profit organisation which works with some of the world’s most powerful CEO’s and leading companies to create workplaces which allow women to prosper. The following global statistics show how the number of women decreases with seniority:

  • 27% of entry-level positions (requiring college degrees)
  • 25% of mid-career roles
  • 17% of senior/executive-level roles
  • 1% of CEOs

They highlight that there is a scarcity in the number of women taking up technical or field roles and that these roles are often the ones which lead to career advancement.

There are notable exceptions. Dr Elbia Gannoum, president of the Brazilian Wind Energy Association, was awarded the Woman of Distinction Award in 2019. In the UK, Baroness Verma and Laura Sandys launched ‘Powerful Women’ in 2014, a professional initiative to support the advancement of women in the energy sector.

Research has shown time and again, the benefits of diverse management teams. An article in the Harvard Business Review in 2016, highlights numerous benefits resulting from gender-balanced management teams including: greater employee engagement, an enhanced brand image, greater client satisfaction, improved business growth and more profits and cash.

The Energy Training Centre has introduced a new course on Advancing Women’s Leadership Skills in the Energy Industry which highlights the following:

  • The existing situation for women in the energy sector
  • How men’s and women’s leadership styles differ
  • The challenges and benefits of a more equal gender balance at senior levels
  • Cultural influences on diversity of leadership teams
  • Development of women’s key leadership qualities