By Aimee Blache
Changing societal expectations have women breaking barriers in oil and gas as well as other male-only industries left, right and centre, although to say that we have completely shattered the glass ceiling in the fossil fuel sector is still premature.
In an article published by Fortune, it was revealed that oil and gas showed less diversity than tech, with only 26.7 percent of related profiles on LinkedIn belonging to women, the lowest percentage amongst the other sectors analysed in this study. Furthermore, a mere 14 percent make up for the women at board level for the top 200 industry players around the world.
Despite key global utilities in the Middle East and the rest of the world traditionally being dominated by men, research indicates that increased female representation in the sector is beneficial to business operations, as it is said to better financial performance, increase productivity, give access to a larger pool of talent, improve responsiveness to the market and strengthen corporate governance. Katie Williams, an employment law specialist and partner at Pinsent Masons, argues that gender diversity shouldn’t just be an issue discussed within the HR department, as it should be a business strategy to gain competitive advantage.
During the Iraq Petroleum Conference, International Oil Companies (IOCs) demonstrated their needs for stability and skilled labour. In order to fulfill their production goal of 5.5-6.0 million barrels per day (bpd) by 2020, not only is it important for the industry to recruit and train the Iraqi workforce, but IOCs specifically need to focus on the inclusion of females as employees and within the supply chain.
But the fear for some is the gender bias that is heavily influenced by the differential between male and female employees. A survey by Rigzone shows that around 20 percent experienced some form of gender discrimination in their respective companies. To eradicate workplace prejudice, there needs to be a more equal representation between males and females at all levels. For profitability or any kind of business growth, IOCs must address the issue of the underwhelming presence of women.