With the energy industry progressively transitioning to cleaner, renewable energy sources, it is facing the challenge of attracting top talent during a time of acute skills shortages and increased competition.
While there’s no quick and easy solution to this, one of the key cornerstones and enablers of energy companies’ hiring and talent acquisition strategy has to be diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). A more diverse, equitable and inclusive workforce is proven to improve staff retention, drive innovation, enhance reputation and boost financial performance. Perhaps more importantly, in a candidate short market, it also broadens talent pools for employers.
So, what can the energy sector do to achieve better diversity and inclusion results?
Promote DEI across the enterprise
From your website through to social media, diversity and inclusion should be a focal part of all internal and external communications. Your commitment to DEI must shine through if you are to attract top talent. And for an industry that has traditionally been male dominated, promoting careers for women while also being recognised as an employer where all groups can flourish, holds the key to success for energy companies.
Leaders must set an example
Any successful change must come from the top and that means gaining buy-in from those in leadership positions. It’s not enough to simply talk about DEI as a business and sprinkle some statistics on your website – candidates looking to come and work for you will be seeking tangible evidence that you are taking concrete steps to tackle the issue. For example, does your organisation have a chief diversity officer (CDO)? What DEI initiatives and programmes are you currently implementing? Ensuring leaders are setting an example to the rest of the company, you’ll be building a culture of true diversity and generating the evidence that you are an inclusive employer.
Hire from diverse talent pools
To boost employment of ethnic minority and under-represented groups, such as the neuro-diverse, organisations need to ensure their recruitment campaigns are attractive to diverse candidates. Your DEI messaging must come through at all stages of the recruitment process, from the job description to eventual employee onboarding and induction. For example, do your adverts continue ‘masculine’ words that could be off-putting for women? And when it comes to the interview stage of the hiring process, does your panel reflect the diversity of people in your firm?
Offer training to all your employees
Training on key topics such as conscious and unconscious bias should not only be rolled out to managers but also to the wider employee population. Helping individuals understand the behaviours that might offend or make an individual feel uncomfortable and not included is key to making progress. Learning via classroom and virtual workshops on how to act and lead more inclusively will foster a culture of collaboration, unleashing the power of diverse teams and organisations.
Measure and monitor success
To get a true gauge of success, DEI efforts must be tracked, with leaders being held accountable. While there are legalities around data protection, organisations must establish the key data points they want to measure. You will likely possess data from many sources, gathered not just at the recruitment stage but throughout the employee’s tenure, including valuable insights from staff appraisals, employee feedback surveys and exit interviews. Use these to track the success of any diverse recruitment strategies and adjust your tactics accordingly.
Provide career progression opportunities
While some would say that setting diversity targets is a positive step, others would argue that this is no more than a box-ticking HR exercise. The success of any DEI policy will depend on how effective it is in terms of enabling all individuals to advance in their careers, which means that companies will reap the benefits from this diversity of thought. Ask yourself if your data insights reveal any upward progression bias? Are there any barriers preventing people from being promoted? If so, address these to ensure your inclusive recruitment activity isn’t wasted.
Create an inclusive culture
Without an inclusive environment that allows individuals to be themselves, accepted for who they are and valued for the unique skills they bring, you are destined for failure. Are you celebrating Black History, Latino or Asian Heritage Months? Is this reflected in your employer branding and communications? Are you partnering with diversity associations at graduate job fairs? These initiatives show that you are fully invested in diversity and inclusion. If your internal culture doesn’t reflect the image you’re conveying to external audiences, you’ll find new recruits swiftly exit the company, wasting the time and money invested in hiring them.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Energy industry
The ‘bottom line’ is that DEI is inextricably linked to improved performance. A McKinsey report found that companies in the top quartile for ethnic and cultural diversity significantly outperformed those in the fourth quartile, recording 36% higher profits. Therefore, energy companies who embrace diversity and racial equality will fare better in attracting top talent in the same way as those that offer flexible or hybrid working are more likely to win the talent war.
Beyond numbers and metrics, DEI is morally right. But for it to work, leaders must look at their culture. The question they must ask themselves is, ‘Does every person in my organisation have equal opportunity to achieve their full potential?’