Date Added: 30.06.22
We’ve been paying close attention throughout Pride Month and have noticed some great efforts from the energy space to do just that for their LGBTQ+ workforce – whatever stage they’re at in their ‘coming out’ journey.
The fact is: workplace inclusivity matters. This is the case for employees, whose career prospects and well-being are often at stake, and for businesses, which are increasingly likely to find that their ability to attract and retain staff hinges on how well they encourage and safeguard diversity in the workplace.
Although the energy industry has historically lagged behind in this respect, things are now changing for the better, and the sector is taking important steps to become more inclusive.
Why LGBTQ+ Representation Should Matter to Businesses
According to the ONS, more than 5% of the UK’s population falls somewhere on the LGBTQ+ spectrum, but there are likely to be many more who haven’t publicly identified themselves as LGBTQ+. Another recent survey from IPSOS indicates that young people born after 1997 are four times more likely than those over 40 to identify as transgender, nonbinary or gender-nonconforming.
In other words, not only do LGBTQ+ workers already constitute a significant proportion of the working population, but future generations of working professionals are much more likely to describe themselves as LGBTQ+. In the coming years, workers deciding where to start their career or which company to work for are much more likely to base part of their decision on a company’s D&I efforts.
In other words, the companies with strong diversity policies and inclusive workplaces will have the best chance of attracting and retaining the best talent.
Representation in the Energy Industry
This is of particular relevance to the energy industry for two reasons. Firstly, as Ofgem noted in a recent report on diversity and inclusion, the energy sector has historically been one of the least diverse sectors in Great Britain.
Whereas 77% of respondents to a 2021 Pride in Energy survey ranked their employer as 7/10 or higher for inclusivity, just under half gave a similarly high score to the energy industry as a whole, suggesting that while progress is being made, it remains uneven.
Plus, the energy industry is currently undergoing a period of exciting transformation, driven by the arrival of smart meters, intensified focus on climate change, and changes to technology and consumer behaviour. Boosting its diversity and becoming more representative of the wider population can improve the industry’s ability to reflect the needs and interests of its customers.
The spread of smart meters and the increased use of Big Data in energy will generate heaps of possibilities for innovation, and create a huge demand for workers with hard-to-find skills. Taking too long to embrace and encourage diversity is likely to cost businesses by making it more difficult for them to recruit and retain the people they need.
More generally, if workers with crucial new skills are attracted to other industries perceived to be more diverse and welcoming, this is bound to slow the rate of innovation in the energy industry, depriving it of the talent it needs to flourish.
What the Energy Industry is Doing Right
Despite its historical lack of diversity and occasionally uneven progress in recent years, there’s plenty cause for optimism.
The fact that over three quarters of workers in the energy industry ranked their employer as 7/10 or higher for inclusivity indicates that workers’ personal experiences of inclusivity in the workplace have been largely positive. The lower score given to the energy industry overall is perhaps more reflective of its historical shortcomings than its recent progress.
In 2019 the US-based Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index gave perfect scores to leading energy industry players like Chevron, Shell and BP. These companies’ rankings are based on their non-discrimination policies, equitable benefits for LGBTQ+ workers and their families and their support for an inclusive culture and corporate social responsibility.
The Foundation’s 2021 Best Place to Work for LGBTQ Equality list awarded top marks to several energy companies including Siemens, Air Liquide and Air Products. This shows that established and prestigious players in the energy industry are taking active steps to encourage workplace diversity and sends a powerful signal to the rest of the industry to follow suit.
Earlier this year Chevron celebrated 30 years of LGBTQ+ employee inclusion, including landmarks like domestic partner benefits for same-sex couples in 1998 and the introduction of gender-neutral bathrooms in 2005, a welcoming example of an energy company making inclusiveness an integral part of its brand.
Closer to home, in 2019 ScottishPower became the first UK energy company to be awarded for its commitment to an inclusive workplace with a Stonewall Workplace Equality Index award.
How We Can Help
It’s amazing to see positive change sweeping across the energy industry when it comes to LGBTQ+ inclusion, and indeed, the full spectrum of ED&I. At Consult we’ve always believed that diversity is essential to healthy workplaces and is something that will enable businesses to flourish in an increasingly progressive sector.
The crucial role that diverse and inclusive hiring practices play in pushing us forwards as an industry is something we’re really passionate about. From providing training on handling conscious and unconscious bias during hiring, to investing in our own D&I policies, we’re proud to be able to support LGBTQ+ inclusion in our own way.
If you’d like a chat about how to diversify the hiring process within your energy or utilities company, get in touch with a member of our team on 0121 633 3030 or drop us an email at email@example.com.
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