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The importance of gender balance in the oil and gas sector

In addition to the severe effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, the global energy transition and the continued growth of digitalisation have accelerated both the need for and the pace of change.

According to a study conducted by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and the World Petroleum Council (WPC), the percentage of women working in the oil and gas industry has remained unchanged at 22 per cent, the same level as in 2017. The pandemic and associated oil price shock were important factors that likely impacted progress, which underscored the need for continued focus, commitment and action to improve diversity and inclusion.

More must be done to achieve gender parity and improve diversity. Indeed, BCG found that companies with gender diversity outperform others in terms of innovation.

However, while other sectors have realised the importance of purpose-led work, better work-life balance and equity, many oil and gas companies have only recently begun to commit to this journey. So far, oil and gas companies have undertaken fairly simple and straightforward diversity and inclusion initiatives. Further progress will require business leaders and managers to take harder steps, questioning unconscious bias far more and making deliberate decisions to boost diversity and inclusion.

According to the study’s findings, there are several challenges that require urgent attention. Among those, the underrepresentation of women in entry-level jobs, as women occupy only about one-quarter of the industry’s entry-level positions. Also, women are still underrepresented in technical and operations roles and expatriate positions despite the willingness of women to accept international assignments.

There are glimmers of hope: the number of diversity and inclusion policies and programs introduced by companies is up by about 50 per cent since 2017, indicating that even though outcomes stalled, the commitment to act for future progress strengthened throughout the period.

Photo: BCG/WPC

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