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Energy firms' gender diversity "not good enough"

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The proportion of female board executives in key energy sectors hasn't changed since last year

Only 6% of executive board seats in the top 100 UK-headquartered energy firms are held by women, according to research from PwC in association with POWERful Women (PfW), an industry body that promotes female leadership in the energy sector.

Igniting Change 2 found that the proportion of female board executives across key energy sectors has not changed since last year, with nuclear remaining at 8% and oil and gas at 7%. The only sector to rise was power and utilities, which has seen an increase of 1% to 18%.

The numbers are in stark contrast to the latest update from Lord Davies’ Women on Boards Review, which showed that the percentage of women on UK boards overall had increased to 26.1%.

The inaugural report in 2015, researched and produced by PwC, revealed that of the top 89 UK-headquartered energy companies (including oil and gas, power and renewables) 61% had no women on their board, while only 7% had at least 25% female board representation.

Ruth Cairnie, chair of POWERful Women, said she fears that the energy sector is standing still while many others make progress. “[This is a] time when energy needs diversity more than ever,” she said. “We need leaders to show real leadership, they are the key.”

Laura Manson-Smith, PwC energy partner and co-author of the report, said the results “aren’t good enough".

“When we launched our Igniting Change report last year there was widespread shock at the low numbers recorded and recognition of the strong focus needed to drive change across organisations; from developing a sustainable pipeline of young women recruits to strong female leaders,” she added. “The latest figures show that this general acceptance hasn’t translated into action – and that’s not good enough. The industry should be worried by these numbers and ask why is it so different from others and why does it seem so difficult to change?”