Invisible Opportunities

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Experience Energy would like to shine a spotlight on one of the aspects to industry culture that often goes unnoticed: job postings.

In a recent article in the ‘Modern Diplomacy’ magazine, they discuss how women and new grads can inadvertently disadvantage themselves when it comes to finding industry jobs or following trends in hiring. As the article states, “in a volatile industry, such information and access to networks and training can make a significant difference in recruitment or advancement.”

There is an adage in oil and gas: it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. The article sums up the problem this creates for many women, particularly in emerging industries. “A lack of information also means that the barriers faced by women in conventional sectors, such as oil and gas, can persist in their emerging counterparts, such as clean energy.”

The Numbers Don't Lie

Ernst & Young conducted a survey in 2017 of 1,200 Americans below the age of 20. It showed a gender gap: a much greater percentage of young men found oil and gas appealing compared to young women – 54% versus 24%. 

Over 62% of respondents said a career in oil and gas was either ‘unappealing’ or ‘very unappealing’. 

In contrast, two-thirds of those polled, with no significant gender difference, said that a job working in renewable energy was ‘appealing’.

The article highlights how spotting and acting on industry trends is an important skill to develop in our business. “Employment in the energy sector can be volatile. Fluctuations in world energy prices; growth of the sector in emerging economies and developing countries; the politics of climate change and energy transitions; conflicts over land and water resources with Indigenous populations; new resource discoveries; and technological change all have the potential to shake up the industry.”

 In other words, anticipating the energy disrupters on the horizon can help a woman future-proof her professional future. “Being aware of the implications of these changes is key to building a successful career.”

Networks Still Matter

Networks are important sources of tips about where a business is headed. The article posits that male networks support each other in making career transitions earlier and in higher numbers than women. 

In other words, women have more “stickiness” to their jobs and companies, which might be a disadvantage in an industry in constant disruption. 

“For example, 25 percent of students studying to be wind turbine technicians at the Lethbridge College Wind Turbine 

Technician program in Alberta, Canada were once oil and gas workers. Recent media reports in Canada also note that oil and gas workers in Alberta are increasingly seeking and finding employment in the clean energy sector.”

The article highlights that women often aren’t aware of the huge range of support occupations and specializations outside of the technical field. “The energy sector is more than just engineers, research scientists or equipment installers – the sector draws upon expertise and skills from diverse backgrounds in environmental science, ecology, conservation, engineering, business management, law, public policy and finance.”

Put Yourself Out There- Literally

One suggestion to address these gaps in knowledge and networks is to take time to nurture internal as well as external professional networks. 

Join mentor groups such as Lean In Energy. For students, join an energy or technology group on campus with access to professionals in the field. 

Return-ships, internships, externships and sabbaticals can all refresh one’s perspective as well as career opportunities. Joining advocacy organizations like Pink Petro is another.

The article also recommends women train themselves up to work across and inside sectors. For instance, not just getting a degree in petroleum-specific technologies but to look for ways to get data analytics or renewable experience also. 

The skills gap is real and wide, and the more proactive women can be, the more they can benefit later. Industry skills shortages are a challenge for the business, but an opportunity for you the individual. Being able to surf the rough waters of industry trends will allow you to land on firm ground in the long run.

To read the original Modern Diplomacy article, go here.

Are We Focusing too Much on Women in our Diversity Efforts?

At Experience Energy, we are committed to fostering conversations around inclusion and diversity at all levels. 

When we ran across a recent survey by McKinsey about the number of women of color in executive roles being less than a quarter than those of white women, we thought we would share the results.

According to McKinsey, white women currently hold only 19% of c-suite positions. For women of color, the number plunges to 4%. In the Fortune 500, there are currently no Indian, African-American or Latina women at the helm of a top company.

The question the survey raises is, will the systemic barriers to gender equality be crashed if mainly white women are perceived to benefit disproportionately?

One example of a policy that concerns some women is a casual dress code.

It’s normally a great perk for employees. But according to another survey, people of color have raised the issue that they can be mistaken for janitorial or administrative staff more often. 

So what to do?

One academic has advocated an intersectional approach, as coined by academic Kimberlé Crenshaw, to identify barriers that women of color face. It considers both race and gender.

This approach suggests the following actions.
 

1. Examine pay data by gender and race. 

A wide body of research shows women of color have more variation in pay than white women. Few look at both race and gender in pay rates. PayScale’s latest report on the gender pay gap uncovered that women of color start at a lower salary scale, which can widen over time.

Citigroup was recently praised for publicly releasing their raw pay data, showing that globally men made 29% more than women. There was no such data for women of color. So many stories aren’t being told.

2. Take a pulse test on employee sentiment by both race and gender. 

Employee engagement surveys generally are analyzed by race or gender. Yet these don’t address specific and pervasive stereotypes for each ethnic group. Considering women of color in diversity programs will better meet the needs of all women, for example.

3. Commit to resourcing and supporting employee resource groups, particularly for specific groups.

The study say that larger groups for just women don’t necessarily satisfy or meet the needs of women of color. A strong trend, say proponents, is when you address the most marginalized groups in any organization, there is a better track record of creating an overall more inclusive environment.

Another suggestion: don’t ask ERG leaders to take on there commitments on top of a full-time role. Carve out time for them to succeed – up to two days a week. The organization would reap the benefits.

4. Implicit bias or diversity training needs to address both gender and race.

The proponents say that bringing in any presenters, trainers, or facilitators to address your organization about diversity and inclusion also need to address the unique challenges that people of color face.

5. Ensure that any organizational goals to improve gender inclusion also include racial representation.

Some studies have shown that women of color haven’t always benefited from gender advancement initiatives.

This approach might be summarized as, ‘no woman left behind.’ Equal pay and access to opportunities should be a priority for all women.

Read the original story in the Harvard Business Review here. For the McKinsey study that sparked the conversation, go here.