E & Y Report 2016: Women in Energy – very little change from last year.
Catherine Mitchell, IGov Team, 8 March 2016
Ernst and Young have just published their 3rd Annual Report about women in the power sector. As can be seen from the figure below 5% of executive board members are women – the same from last year; non-execs have gone up 2% to 19%; the total women board members (exec and non-exec) is up 1% to 16% and senior management is also up 1% to 14%. At this rate, it will take 42 years to reach 30% of board members.
Source: E&Y (2016) Women in Power and Utilities: p4
The arguments put forward by the 2016 report in support of more women in energy are more or less the same as in the last two reports of 2014 and 2015: greater gender equality is smart economics, enhances productivity, advances development outcomes of future generations and makes institutions more representative, as well as providing the energy industry, in this time of huge change, with the fresh thinking that diversity brings.
In an interview for RenewEconomy, Matt Rennie, EY Oceania Power & Utilities Leader said ‘If I look at what’s going on with the electricity sector in general, the retailers are struggling with the future of their business models; networks are struggling with what battery storage and solar are going to do. And they’re both struggling with what their role will be in the future energy market. The thing about utilities, is we like doing today what we did yesterday. And that doesn’t really allow for diversity of talent or of ideas. When you’ve got such a transformative event coming [talking about the shift away from centralised fossil fuel energy generation to distributed renewable energy technologies in Australia at the moment] it just adds to the need for diversity’.
There are certainly some fabulous women out there at the forefront of innovation in energy. See the podcast on Audrey Zibelman who is transforming the NY REV energy system by providing new sources of value, incentivised through performance based regulation. Our own Juliet Davenport is an inspiration for a combination of practical company development and analysis based, customer focused innovation, and Sara Bell has recently done wonders shaking the GB energy scene. And there are many many others who do great, innovative work, but there needs to be more.
Improving the position of women in employment, not just energy, is complex as the E and Y report explains. However, quota’s are a good way to get a ‘pipeline’ going; family friendly employment rules and support from employers for family friendly practices is a must; and those who interview for positions have to be equitable and recognise the benefits of diversity.