Alexa – how do we achieve gender balance?

Professor Paul de Leeuw, director of RGU's oil and gas institute
Professor Paul de Leeuw, director of RGU's oil and gas institute
Opinion by Paul de Leeuw

Director of the Oil and Gas Institute, Professor Paul de Leeuw, and Business Analyst, Sumin Kim, tonight join gender balance AXIS Network’s event for a fascinating insight into the data behind the UKCS Workforce Dynamics Skills Landscape report.

Professor de Leeuw will discuss the importance of maximising the talent pool and retaining a diverse workforce with particular focus on the gender disaggregated data from their research, and what this tells us about where the industry is in relation to diversity and where we are likely to be by 2025.

The oil and gas industry has seen significant change since 2014. A substantial number of people left the industry over recent years and many companies have restructured their business to reflect the new commodity price reality. While much of the recent focus in the oil and gas industry has been on efficiency measures, cultural change and maximising economic recovery, key elements of a sustainable future centre around skills and on developing a diverse and balanced workforce.

Although some progress has been made to improve the gender diversity in the UKCS, the industry still continues to have a bigger gender gap compared to many other sectors (although it is in line with other STEM industries). The value case for diversity and inclusion is acknowledged across the industry and there are great examples of positive momentum to increase diversity in the widest sense.

Currently, around 25% of the workforce in the UKCS is female, although there is a high degree of variability in the gender balance by job family. With around 165,000 people directly and indirectly employed in the sector in 2019, it means that just over 40,000 women are currently employed in the industry. If there was gender parity in the sector, one would expect a female workforce of around 80,000, leaving a gender deficit at present of circa 40,000 women.

With the increased focus on STEM subjects in schools, balanced recruitment processes and the creation of new roles in the sector, it is anticipated that the gender balance will improve over time. On the basis that over 80% of the staff currently working in the UKCS will still do so by 2025, and on the assumption that there will be an equal balance for those joining the sector between 2019 and 2025, it is projected that the gender balance is likely to shift from around 25% females in the sector in 2019 to circa 30% by 2025. It is key that these percentages (or better) are also reflected at leadership level.

Whilst this is a step in the right direction, it is worth noting that at the current rate of progress, it will be well in to the 2050s before we see gender parity in the basin, more than ninety years after the first production of hydrocarbons.

As an industry, we need to do more than we have done to date. This will require real leadership, significant support and a commitment from all of us to play our part in making this happen.

Paul de Leeuw, Director of Robert Gordon University’s (RGU) Oil and Gas Institute (OGI)

Earlier this year, energy skills body OPITO, in partnership with RGU’s Oil and Gas Institute set out a strategy to prepare the UK oil and gas industry for a shift in skills requirements over the next six years. Part of this report explored progress towards a more gender balanced industry.

For more information on gender balance in the Aberdeen Energy sector, please visit www.axisnetwork.co.uk

 

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