New Thinking: We need Board Quota’s for Women in Energy

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New Thinking: We need Board Quota’s for Women in Energy

CM cropped medWe need Board Quota’s for Women in Energy

Catherine Mitchell, IGov Team, 3rd February 2015

A new report Price Waterhouse Cooper (PwC) and POWERful Women (PfW) (an industry body) Igniting Change: building the pipeline of female leaders in energy calls for 40% of energy company middle management and 30% of executive boards to be female by 2030, and sets out a route map for it to be achieved. New research for the report shows that 61% of those surveyed believe the most compelling commercial reason for increased gender diversity is better decision making.

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 2011 Davies Report 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. As with the PwC/PfW Report, the Davies Report illuminated research which showed that companies with senior women outperformed companies without.

The PwC/PfW report key route map requirements are:

  • 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.


This report is welcome but its recommendations fall short of those necessary to make the necessary changes. As another recent blog on women and energy argued, voluntary quotas and the measures above are insufficient. The fundamental required policy is a quota for women on Boards. Only then will a pipeline be developed. When discussing quotas, some senior women argue against them saying if companies were forced to choose women, then those women chosen would not feel that they have got there on ‘merit’ and they may not be equal to the merit of a man displaced, thereby undermining women’s credibility. I (and most women I know) totally disagree with this. I do not believe for an instant that all men on Boards get there on merit alone. As said elsewhere, there are many women who are more capable than many of the men chosen for Boards, appointments, talks and so on who do not get chosen. This is for multiple well-known reasons explored by the Davies Report; the PwC/PfW Report and, for example, the Fawcett Society and the Glass Lift Company.

It is about 100 years since my grandmother was required to leave her job when she got married. Things have improved for women but not as fast as she would have liked. Quotas should be brought in as soon as possible.

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