On Thursday, June 29, 2023, prominent leaders from the energy sector congregated in central London for a vital meeting focused on promoting inclusivity and diversity within the industry. The event, hosted by ENA, Energy UK, and Ofgem and sponsored by Murray McIntosh, featured a joint declaration from the organizations, pledging intensified efforts to improve equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI). Backed by new research emphasizing the enhanced business benefits of prioritizing EDI, this annual EDI conference marks a significant step towards creating a more representative and diverse workforce in the energy sector.
The energy industry, which employs over 730,000 individuals across generation, networks, and retail, acknowledges the need for coordinated action to address its lack of diversity. Recognizing this urgency, a dedicated taskforce named TIDE (Tackling Inclusion and Diversity in Energy) has been actively combining cross-sector insights and evidence to drive industry-wide transformations.
TIDE’s focus has centered on three key areas:
- Insight Gathering: Collecting comprehensive data to gain a deeper understanding of current EDI dynamics within the sector.
- Sharing Best Practice: Identifying successful EDI strategies and practices that can be adopted and adapted by various organizations.
- Engaging with Leaders: Encouraging CEOs and leaders to champion EDI, set an example, and promote change across the industry.
During the conference, the CEOs of Energy UK, ENA, and Ofgem took an unprecedented step by publicly committing to individual actions that will foster EDI improvements across their respective organizations. By leading by example, these leaders aim to inspire others within the industry to follow suit.
Emma Pinchbeck, CEO of Energy UK, emphasized that EDI is not only a moral imperative but also a business-critical aspect. Poor workplace culture and lack of representation can have detrimental effects on organizations. Conversely, research has shown that more diverse and inclusive companies tend to be more productive and profitable. The energy sector, serving a diverse population and driving a transition to sustainable energy, can benefit immensely from a workforce and leadership that genuinely represent society.
Lawrence Slade, CEO of Energy Networks Association, echoed the sentiment, stressing that focusing on EDI not only aligns with ethical principles but also boosts business effectiveness. Happy and confident employees, free to be their authentic selves, contribute significantly to an organization’s success.
Jonathan Brearley, Ofgem CEO, acknowledged the industry’s progress but also highlighted the ongoing need for further change. Leadership, he emphasized, plays a vital role in driving action, dialogue, and momentum. To fully represent the people they serve, organizations must prioritize diverse leadership through effective recruitment, retention, awareness, and accountability strategies.
The Energy Leaders’ Commitment unveiled during the conference encompasses various measures that leaders will undertake:
- Demonstrating allyship and actively promoting EDI.
- Challenging poor EDI practices among fellow leaders and stakeholders.
- Setting EDI targets as part of performance objectives for themselves and their direct reports.
- Ensuring senior accountability for EDI within their organizations, with established frameworks, policies, and processes for reporting harassment and abuse.
- Implementing inclusive recruitment practices and gathering EDI data, with target setting for improvement within a year if such measures are not already in place.
- Embedding EDI into the organization’s mission, strategy, and values to foster an inclusive company culture.
By signing up for the commitment, leaders also commit their organizations to complete the TIDE Health Index, the first cross-industry survey of energy companies’ EDI progress. The Health Index will be piloted later this year, with industry-wide implementation planned for 2024.
Furthermore, TIDE is launching a call for input for its online EDI Hub, designed to be a comprehensive resource for EDI professionals in the energy sector. The Hub aims to cover various topics, including EDI strategy, data collection, training, and case studies demonstrating best practices.
The conference also featured research conducted by Thinks Insight and Strategy, appointed by Ofgem, highlighting the importance of EDI in addressing the sector’s challenges and the significance of diverse leadership.
With TIDE’s persistent momentum and industry-wide collaboration, the energy sector strives to build a workforce that embraces diversity and fosters inclusivity, ensuring a successful transition towards a sustainable and representative future.