Energy Sector Risks Falling Behind on Gender Diversity

  • Women Make Up an Average of 23% of the Workforce, One of the Lowest Numbers of Any Major Sector
  • Women’s Representation in the Workforce Is Up Only 1% Since 2020
  • The Majority of Underrepresented Groups Found Flexible Working Helped Their Career Trajectories

BOSTON, Sept. 18, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Women make up an average of 23% of the oil and gas industry workforce, up by only 1% since 2020. Oil and gas continues to lag behind most major sectors, with only construction performing worse, at 14%. Overall representation in entry-level positions has reached 27% from a previous 25%, but it drops to only 20% by senior level. Operations and technical roles showed the biggest drop, from 18% at entry level, to only 5% for executives, according to new research published today by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and WPC Energy.

The report, titled Untapped Reserves 3.0: Advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Energy Sector, is the third in a series exploring the topic. For the first time, this year’s edition also looks at underrepresented ethnic and racial groups (UERGs); lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning and/or queer (LGBTQ+) people; people with health conditions or disabilities; veterans of active military, naval, or air service; caregivers of children or adult dependents; and people from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. Its scope has also been expanded beyond oil and gas to cover the wider energy sector, including power and utilities and new energy companies.

Regional and Sector Variations

Energy companies in the Asia Pacific region reported the highest average share of women in the workforce, with 27%, followed by Central and South America at 26%, North America at 25%, and the Middle East and Africa at 20%.

Power and utilities companies outperform oil and gas, with women making up 26% of the workforce on average, and 22% at senior levels. Likely drivers include higher regulation of the sector which may encourage higher rates of diversity and inclusion, as well as higher location flexibility, compared with oil and gas where relocation is often expected. Power and utilities companies also have higher implementation rates of key interventions, including flexible, remote, and hybrid work policies, linking leadership compensation to diversity, equality, and inclusion (DE&I) goals, and establishing leadership positions such as a chief diversity officer.

“Time and time again, our experience shows that diverse teams provide a rich seam of perspectives, experiences, and talent. Inclusivity creates a safe environment for sharing ideas, for problem-solving, and for innovation,” said Whitney Hughes-Plummer, a BCG managing director and partner. “Now, more than ever, innovation is crucial to our sector, faced with the challenges of the energy transition and of the trilemma around energy sustainability, affordability, and security. By investing in diversity, equity, and inclusion, we are investing in innovation.”

Key DE&I Initiatives

BCG research shows there are four types of DE&I initiatives that are linked with higher levels of women’s representation at senior levels: flexible working and caregiver supportive policies, balanced promotion practices, commitment from senior leadership, and intentional recruiting.

The sector has continued to progress in implementing core initiatives. Ninety-three percent of energy companies in our survey have anti-sexual-harassment policies in place; 91% have anti-discrimination policies; and most have, or plan to develop, maternity leave policies.

The Covid-19 pandemic saw the expansion of remote and hybrid working models. Only 22% of the companies in our survey had remote or hybrid work policies in place by 2020, but an additional 56% introduced such policies between 2020 and 2023. However, 56% of companies plan to either reduce or eliminate remote working in the future. Our survey found that this will have a disproportionate impact on underrepresented groups. The results show that 62% of women, 54% of people with health conditions or disabilities, and 66% of LGBTQ+ employees found that flexible working policies had a positive impact on their career, compared with 46% of men.

“The Untapped Reserves 3.0 survey, which for the first time includes data from power, utilities, and new energy companies, provides an urgent reminder that much remains to be done to gain the performance and productivity benefits that a diverse workforce provides,” said Pedro Miras, WPC Energy President. “This recurring report provides in-depth analysis of the effectiveness of DE&I policies and suggests a comprehensive framework for activating DE&I within the energy sector. As a community, we must work together to remove the complex barriers in place in order to employ and retain the very best people.”

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Media Contact:
Eric Gregoire
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About Boston Consulting Group
Boston Consulting Group partners with leaders in business and society to tackle their most important challenges and capture their greatest opportunities. BCG was the pioneer in business strategy when it was founded in 1963. Today, we work closely with clients to embrace a transformational approach aimed at benefiting all stakeholders—empowering organizations to grow, build sustainable competitive advantage, and drive positive societal impact.

Our diverse, global teams bring deep industry and functional expertise and a range of perspectives that question the status quo and spark change. BCG delivers solutions through leading-edge management consulting, technology and design, and corporate and digital ventures. We work in a uniquely collaborative model across the firm and throughout all levels of the client organization, fueled by the goal of helping our clients thrive and enabling them to make the world a better place.

About WPC Energy
WPC Energy, the World Forum for Energy Transformation, is a non-advocacy, non-political organization with charitable status in the UK and accreditation as a Non-Governmental Organization from the United Nations. Formed in 1933 and comprising 60 National Committees, WPC Energy facilitates as open dialogue around oil, gas, energy, and their products and is dedicated to the promotion of their sustainable management for the benefit of all.

WPC Energy organizes the triennial World Petroleum Congress which, with a typical attendance of over 15,000, provides a neutral and inclusive platform to debate and define realistic, workable paths to a net zero future. The event brings together thought leaders from across the global energy industry including Heads of State, Ministers, CEOs, Presidents and Heads of International Organizations, as well as engineers, academics, and the NGO community.

SOURCE Boston Consulting Group (BCG)

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