Our Top Findings from the 2023 Women in Energy Network Alliance Conference24 August, 2023
This white paper sets the stage for transformative initiatives, fostering an environment where diversity, inclusion, and progress flourish. To read more, download the whitepaper here to access a wealth of recommendations, strategies, and best practices, act as a guiding compass for organisations and individuals.
In March 2023, WENA held its inaugural Conference, attended by over 130 energy professionals in London. The day featured an array of inspiring speakers and a unique chance for the audience to brainstorm about diversity and inclusion’s most pressing topics during the Conference’s round table sessions.
In this blog, we will look at the top findings from the conference and share some industry insights on an array of these thought-provoking topics.
The Women’s Energy Network Alliance (WENA) represents over 350,000 women working in energy-related industries in the UK. The organisation supports females at different career levels in varying sub-sectors and disciplines – from championing STEM outreach for girls to advancing women to board level and focuses on engineering across the energy sector. Their collective mission is to support women’s careers and make faster progress on female representation in the UK energy industry.
You Can’t Be What You Can’t See
One of the key themes for the conference was that of female role models, particularly in the ever-evolving energy sector, which is still commonly recognised as a male-dominated industry. Having women present and visible in leadership roles can be an example of women's strength and power in the sector. The hope is that the more normal this becomes, the more it challenges gender stereotypes.
WENA found that there is a strong need for organisations to establish clear diversity statistics and set targets to drive progress. Members of the table discussions suggested that companies should have a minimum of 30% representation on their boards and focus on closing the gender pay gap to ensure accountability.
However, the findings from the conference acknowledged that creating supportive and inclusive cultures should not solely rely on having a CEO well-versed in diversity and inclusion. Having these values ingrained into company culture will be far more impactful.
There are several contributing factors to why we may commonly see fewer women in leadership in the energy industry, but the Women in Energy Network Alliance Conference hopes to challenge this.
Building a Strong Network
Building a solid network is vital to navigating the industry. There are endless benefits to building a strong personal network, such as having access to new opportunities, making long-term connections with key players in your industry, and getting exposed to a broader range of perspectives and opinions from a diverse range of people. Networking can also be great for personal development, pushing you out of your comfort zone.
The event highlighted some methods and tips for networking:
- Carve out time in your schedule specifically for networking; make it a priority in your career journey.
- Follow up after meeting individuals; this can make a lasting impression.
- Networking inside your organisation can be just as helpful as outside.
- Treat every encounter as an exciting opportunity and chance to learn and find common ground.
- Online networking can also be incredibly valuable with tools such as LinkedIn.
- Find enjoyable networking formats that suit you best.
The Value of Mentors
Highlighted as one of the most valuable things offered to young professionals when nurturing career growth, having a mentor can connect you with experienced professionals who can provide guidance, insight, and support from outside your organisation.
Mentorship can take several forms, from long-term nurturing relationships to informal conversations with industry professionals; there is value in each level of guidance. However, people can often gravitate towards similar individuals, making building a diverse network of mentors hard.
Imposter syndrome can also be a challenge for women in the industry. The conference found that one effective way to combat imposter syndrome is to build a network of allies and cheerleaders who provide support and encouragement. It’s also important to remember that confidence is a skill that can be developed through practice and experience.
Having women in your network as role models and a source of support and information provides a sense of safety, nurturing and inspiration. Discussing shared experiences can help you navigate your career hurdles and reach your full potential.
Cultivating a Diverse Workforce
As an organisation, the need to attract, retain and develop female talent is becoming increasingly important to organisations as they strive for success. The conference focused on increasing gender diversity across the energy sector to fully utilise the potential of female talent, drive positive change and secure a sustainable future for the industry. The conference broke down some of the ways the industry can approach this.
Attracting the next generation. The industry must actively engage young individuals to pursue careers in STEM industries. Using outreach programmes, career fairs, and education initiatives can help engage and inspire the next generation. Collaborating with educational institutions can also offer internships, partnerships, and opportunities to those studying STEM subjects. Additionally, accessible, inclusive, and tailored coaching programmes are needed to engage individuals from diverse backgrounds.
The power of coaching. Recognised as a valuable tool, coaching can be a great way to empower those starting out on their STEM journey. It can be challenging for anyone starting in their career or still studying to make a choice on which direction to go or how to make it to their destination.
Learn and adapt: More so than ever, the next generation is despondent to language that is not inclusive and management styles that adopt the traditional ‘command and control’ method. Organisations need to be understanding and reactive to the fact that the world and attitudes are changing. Encouraging language of collaboration, empathy, and flexibility rather than competitiveness and aggression can display your organisation as an inclusive workplace that is open to change.
Leveraging Data to Power Diversity & Inclusion
Using data collection effectively can help diversify talent within an organisation. Inclusive data helps inform and shape national policymaking within the energy industries.
One of the main takeaways was that data needs to be abundant and readily available when hoping to enact policy changes on both large and small scales. Data-backed research can build a strong case and engage key stakeholders, fostering a healthy environment for open conversations about policy.
Retaining Talent by Adopting Best Practices
While attracting talent is essential, having the ability to retain it is another challenge many organisations face. Establishing and adopting best practices can help drive change within the sector and encourage the overall conversation around diversity in the workplace.
- Balancing diversity and merit can be difficult for organisations to navigate. Accountability in recruitment and data-driven decision-making is essential to avoid the perception of diversity hires.
- Normalising issues such as Menopause and encouraging open conversations around these topics helps spread awareness and give women the support they need during turbulent periods in their life.
- Inclusive terminology should be a priority when communicating with individuals within and outside organisations. Companies can broaden their appeal by using de-gendered language in job advertisements and ensuring company communications use the best language possible for everyone.
- Allyship from leaders has a strong influence. There is a need for top-level executives and CEOs to serve as role models, displaying their support for female talent and allowing others to follow suit.
For any organisation, it’s essential to continually review and update the policies and practices to support diversity.
Supporting the Women’s Energy Network Alliance
NES Fircroft were proud to support the event and contribute to the white paper, which evolved from the day’s findings and discussions. It is designed to provide unique insight into how companies can power diversity and inclusion through dialogue and shared learning. This white paper sets the stage for transformative initiatives, fostering an environment where diversity, inclusion, and progress flourish.
To read more, download the whitepaper here to access a wealth of recommendations, strategies, and best practices, act as a guiding compass for organisations and individuals.
Are you looking to take the next step in your career? Our expert recruitment teams recruit engineering and technical professionals for global roles. You can view all our open vacancies or register your CV with us today for free to ensure you’re first in line for future jobs in this exciting and ground-breaking industry.