POWERful Women has today welcomed the CEO of Centrica, Chris O’Shea, onto the Energy Leaders’ Coalition (ELC)1, a group of major UK energy company heads who have made a public commitment to improving diversity and inclusion within their organisations and the energy sector as a whole.
The ELC was formed in 2018 in response to the poor level of female representation at senior levels in the UK energy industry. It is a recognition that better balance is good for business2 and essential for attracting and retaining the talent and innovation necessary to reach Net Zero.
"At Centrica, we're on a journey to make sure that all colleagues feel welcome and can thrive. We know that by creating a more diverse workforce and a truly open and inclusive working environment that values and leverages the benefits of that diversity, we will win as individuals, as a business, as a sector, and as a society. It's clear more needs to be done to attract, retain and develop women in the energy sector. I'm therefore delighted to join the Energy Leaders' Coalition, as I passionately believe that we achieve more by working collectively than individually. I'm looking forward to learning more about what others have done and sharing what we are doing in Centrica, and confident that together we will find and implement solutions to challenge inequality and remove barriers that prevent women from advancing their careers."
Chris O'Shea, Group CEO, Centrica
In May this year, POWERful Women (PfW) and PwC UK published new statistics on the number of women in board seats and executive director roles in the top 80 most significant UK energy employers . The company data showed that representation at senior levels remains disappointingly low, with very little progress made since 2020:
- 24% of all board seats across the sector are occupied by women
- 14% of executive director seats are occupied by women
- 28% of companies still have no women on their board
- Only 18 out of the top 80 UK energy companies have any female executive directors.
By joining the ELC, the leaders sign up to a charter, committing them to communicate their company’s ambition, targets and timeline for change and be accountable for progress, including setting key measures to track and report publicly. They also commit to providing the resources and support internally to deliver improvements, to learning from each other and sharing successes, and to advocating for better balance across the industry.
"Society recognises that diversity of background and thought is central to a successful energy transition and that the under-representation of women is something that needs to be addressed urgently. We are delighted that the CEO of Centrica has joined the Energy Leaders’ Coalition, a safe and collaborative space for the heads of the largest UK energy employers to learn what works best when it comes to putting diversity and inclusion into practice. A public commitment to better balance like this – made at the very top of an energy company – is incredibly important for driving and influencing change. We all look forward to working with Chris to accelerate progress."
Nick Wayth, Chief Executive of the Energy Institute and PfW Board Member
Later this year the ELC will publish its third anniversary report. It will review the work of the past year and the progress the 16 companies have made against their own and industry targets. The report will also show which diversity and inclusion actions have made the most difference, illustrated with best practice case studies. The CEOs will look ahead to what still needs to be done to overcome barriers and increase the number of women at the top of the sector.
1. The Energy Leaders’ Coalition was formed in May 2018. It now comprises the heads of the following 16 companies, representing more than 100,000 employees in the UK energy sector: bp, Drax, Cavendish, Centrica, EDF, Engie, E.ON UK, Good Energy, National Grid, Ørsted UK, RWE, ScottishPower, Shell UK, SSE, Subsea 7, Wood. More details here: https://powerfulwomen.org.uk/energy-leaders-coalition/
The ELC’s Second Anniversary Report, published in October 2020: ‘Bringing gender diversity and inclusion commitments to life’ can be found here: https://powerfulwomen.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/FINAL-PfW-Brochure-Sept-2020-FINAL-WEB.pdf
2. For example, McKinsey, May 2020: “companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on executive teams were 25% more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile.” https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/diversity-and-inclusion/diversity-wins-how-inclusion-matters
3. The full set of POWERful Women statistics by company for 2021, published in May, can be found here https://powerfulwomen.org.uk/board-statistics-by-company-2021/
About POWERful Women
POWERful Women is a professional initiative working to increase the representation of women at the top of the UK energy sector. Our goals are to see 30% of executive board roles and 40% of middle management roles filled by women by 2030. We do this in three ways: campaigning and reporting (for example, annual board statistics, the Energy Leaders’ Coalition, company pledges),supporting women in their careers (for example, through our mentoring programme, POWERful Connections) and providing practical support to companies committed to better gender diversity and inclusion (for example, through D&I working groups and sharing good practice). More information: www.powerfulwomen.org.uk
Centrica is a leading energy services and solutions provider founded on a 200-year heritage of serving people. We are the UK’s biggest retailer of zero carbon electricity, serving around 10 million customers across the UK, Ireland and Continental Europe through brands such as British Gas, supported by around 9,000 highly trained engineers and technicians. Centrica’s purpose of helping customers live sustainably, simply and affordably drives our strategy and our People and Planet Plan.
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