UK energy companies fail to promote women to executive roles

Leading UK energy companies are failing to promote women into senior roles, figures show.

Just 6% of executive board seats are filled by women, and 42% of major energy firms have no women on their boards at all.

Ineos, at the forefront of fracking in the UK, is the best-known company with no women on its board in any position, although many other smaller companies also have no female representation.

However, leading energy companies are also failing to drive up the numbers of senior women. BP has no female executive board members, and of its 14 board members, five are women.

Sellafield, Centrica, Drax, EDF Energy and Wood plc all have no female executive board members.

Shell and Good Energy come out best for female representation at senior levels: Shell’s board of 12 is 50% female, and at Good Energy half the board members are women.

Last year leaders of UK energy companies made a commitment to drive up the number of women at senior levels to meet the challenges facing fossil fuel companies.

But Powerful Women, a body within the industry that released the new statistics and is attempting to improve representation of women, said in the last 12 months there had only been ‘“pockets of success”.

Ruth Cairnie, the chair of Powerful Women, said: “It is clear that we still have a very long way to go to truly tap into the pool of female talent available in the energy sector so that it is fit to meet the challenges and opportunities of the energy transformation.

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“The 2019 statistics show that progress is disappointingly slow, and has even gone backwards when we look at progress toward the targets.”

A report by the leaders of eight major energy companies on progress towards greater diversity reveals reasons the drive to improve gender balance at the top of companies is not progressing.

Key areas raised in the report include a lack of visible senior female role models, insufficient support for flexible working in senior roles and unconscious bias within organisations.

Keith Anderson, the chief executive of ScottishPower, said the work in the last year by energy companies had identified the barriers to gender balance at senior levels.

“The energy industry is changing. If we are to overcome the challenges of becoming a net zero country by 2045 and make the most of the opportunities – of decarbonisation, digitalisation and changing customer expectations – we also need to make the most of the talent available.”



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