New alliance launched to support women across the UK’s energy sector
Nine organisations supporting women in energy-related careers in the UK have teamed up to launch a new alliance, described as a ‘one-stop-shop’ for collaboration and resource-sharing for women across the sector.
Called the Women’s Energy Network Alliance (WENA), member organisations of the initiative will collaborate to develop plans for better supporting women at a variety of career levels, across a diverse range of energy-related industries and disciplines. Industries represented include nuclear power generation, renewable power generation, district heating and clean technologies. Services on offer will include events, mentoring and practical advice on upskilling.
The aim is to provide a ‘one-stop-shop’ for women seeking professional advice and collaboration, regardless of what stage they are at in their career – including those seeking to enter the industry for the first time and those pushing for promotion to a middle management or leadership role. The WENA’s motto will be: ‘leave no woman behind’.
A study conducted by PwC and WENA member POWERFul Women last year found that 38% of the UK’s largest energy companies have no women on their boards at all, with 79% having no women in executive board seats. Change is underway at many firms, with 21% of board seats and 13% of executive board seats held by women across this sector. But POWERFul Women is pushing for at least a 30% quota by 2030 at all companies.
When we look at gender representation across all career levels, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has observed that, on average, developed nations like the UK have 76% fewer women than men in their energy sectors. The Agency has recorded an average gender wage gap of 15%.
Participating in the WENA alongside POWERFul Women are the Women’s Utilities Network (WUN), Women in Nuclear, Lean In Equity & Sustainability, ALLY Energy, Regen’s ReWiRE, District Heating Divas and Full Circle 21. Collectively, these organisations represent thousands of women across and beyond the UK.
These organisaitons each bring different specialisms to the mix, from online advice provision, to engagement with policymakers, to facilitating mentorship, to championing STEM education for girls and young women.
“Whilst there are many women’s networks and initiatives, we formed this group as we believe there is a great deal we can learn from one another, both as a sector and as women’s networks,” said Lean In Equity and Sustainability’s co-founder Lame Verre.
“WENA provides a one-stop-shop for women in energy at all levels and working in various parts of the value chain, providing opportunities to learn more about other segments and disciplines… We hope, with the support this group can offer as a collective will improve the attraction, development, retention and promotion of female talent at all levels across the energy sector.”
Women in Nuclear UK’s president Ivan Baldwin added that a workforce of “diverse talent” is important if the UK is to “have any hope of reaching net-zero in the most effective and efficient way”.
For the UK energy sector alone, 400,000 green jobs need to be filled to reach net-zero according to National Grid research. The UK Government is targeting two million people in green jobs by 2030, but the latest official figures showed that the nation hosted some 207,800 full-time equivalent roles in 2020. This was a minor increase on 2019 levels but still an overall decrease since 2014.
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