New energy industry research powers call for 30% female executive board seats by 2030 - PwC report

Published at 00:01 AM on 02 February 2015

  • 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
  • Call for 40% of energy company middle management and 30% of executive board to be female by 2030
  • Men and women urged to help promote and achieve 2030 targets set by POWERful Women (PfW)

A new report from PwC and industry body POWERful Women1 (PfW) is calling 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.

But there is a hill to climb: the report, Igniting Change: building the pipeline of female leaders in energy,  reveals that just 5% of executive board seats are currently held by women while 61% of leadership boards have no women present at all.  When assessed against the Davies Report2 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. And 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.”

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. It states that:

  • CEOs and senior leadership teams 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.
  • Human Resources must re-examine their talent management, recruitment and reporting processes to ensure they aren’t disadvantaging women and should demand diverse short-lists across the organisation.
  • Women must be more confident and grasp the nettle if they are to achieve their ambitions and inspire the next generation of women.  According to our research, 41% of women believed the best career accelerator is seizing the right opportunities and experiences with 29% advocating the need for a strong network of mentors and contacts.

The report highlights the need to attract a lot more females 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, co-founder of POWERful Women and Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Department of Energy and Climate Change, 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.

Igniting Change clearly shows that everyone has a role to play – from CEOs and senior management to HR departments and individuals themselves. Together, my hope is that we’ll be able to reach POWERFUL Women’s ambition of ensuring that 30% of executive energy company board members and 40% of energy company middle management are female by 2030.”

The report also shines a spotlight on strong female role models and includes commentary from a number of senior male leaders advocating the need for positive changes.

Gwen Parry-Jones, EDF Energy’s safety and assurance director, has been in the energy industry for the past 25 years, and was the first female station director of a nuclear power station in the UK. She said:

“EDF Energy is working hard on recruitment and career development initiatives so that more women hold senior roles within the company and the energy sector more widely. We have reached 20% representation in new build and in our hiring. This is better than the prevailing industry and applicant mix, but we aim to go further to build a balanced and diverse team at all levels. Participating in POWERful women and this report will help us get there.

“We have a way to go to meet the challenges set out in this report, but with the initiatives we are taking and lessons from others I hope we will not only deliver on this, but will become an example to others of what an even more inclusive company can achieve.”

Jo Swinson, Minister for Women and Equalities commented:

“I am delighted to see that the energy industry has recognised the importance of ensuring that there are many more women in senior levels of management, as well as on executive boards. This is a step in the right direction, and I hope that the energy sector rapidly progresses to meet the levels achieved by other industries in the FTSE 100.

"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 – it’s targets.”


To view the report, click here.

  1. POWERful Women was established to advance the professional growth and leadership development of women in the energy sector.  The organisation brings together a mix of industrial, academic and political leaders spanning exploration, energy generation & supply, energy efficiency, technology, government and consumer issues. It works to support and encourage energy companies to appoint more women to senior roles as part of building stronger businesses and adapting to changing markets and in 2014, it announced a series of 2030 targets.
  2. Davies Report - In 2011, Lord Davies of Abersoch launched his report on women on boards, setting a target of securing 25% of women on the boards of FTSE 100 firms by 2015. 
  3. Women account for 9% of all board seats (executive and non-executive) in the top 100 UK headquartered energy companies listed on the LSE and AIM. This is compared to Davies target of 25% female board representation by 2015 for the FTSE 100 and achievement of 21% as of March 2014.

For more information, contact:

Lynn Hunter, media relations - UK oil and gas, Tel: 0141 355 4015 /07841 570487  e-mail: [email protected] 
Gill Carson, media relations - UK power and utilities, Tel: 020 72121391 mob. 07837 285466 e-mail: [email protected]


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