Analysis: Data shows which UK wind firms are making progress on gender diversity at board level

Women in the UK wind industry continue to be under-represented at the most senior levels of management, according to new data seen by Windpower Monthly.

Women continue to be under-represented in the UK energy sector according to a new report (Image credit: Getty Images)

Campaigning professional organisation Powerful Women (PfW) revealed its 2023 ‘State of the Nation’ report on gender diversity within the UK’s 80 largest energy employers - representing a combined workforce of 190,000 people - at an event this morning (May 23). The data was compiled and released by PfW and professional services firm PwC.

Of these figures, 22 of the companies listed in the table below are either pure-play wind industry companies, or have a renewable energy component to their businesses.

Incremental progress

Overall, incremental progress has been made at board level for female representation in companies which work in renewable energy since last year - although some have slipped backwards.

However, there has been little change at executive board level in the same companies, with only three making progress in this area

An analysis of the 17 companies which also appeared in last year’s PfW report showed that, since last year:

11 companies showed an increased percentage of board seats occupied by women, three showed a decrease in board representation and three showed no change.

Eight firms had rough parity of around 50% (44-53%) of board members occupied by women, eight were below 40% (22% - 40%) and one had no female board members.

Only three firms showed an increase in the number of executive director posts held by women, 13 showed no change, one showed a decrease in female representation.

Only three companies have 50% or more female executive board members while nine have none at all.

Three companies have made progress on female representation at exec board level, one has slipped backwards and the remainder showed no change.

New figures

However, there were some encouraging signs of increased diversity in five companies with a renewable energy component for which figures have been released for the first time this year.

Of these, only RES Group showed that 100% of its executive board members were women, although only 30% of board members overall were female, while Greencoat UK’s executive board was made up of two men and one woman.

Three of the new firms listed this year – Greencoat UK, Chevron, Statkraft - had more than 40% of their board posts occupied by women.

Now read: Opinion - Time the wind industry found its ambition on gender diversity 

The wider UK energy sector

PfW’s report revealed that the UK energy sector lags behind the FTSE 350 for representation of women at board level and the organisation said “very little progress” had been made since its last report 12 months ago.

Women occupied only 29% of executive and non-executive board seats across the UK energy sector, a rise of two percentage points in 12 months but 11% short of the cross-sector target for the FTSE 350.

Only 16% of executive board positions were occupied by women - one percentage point higher than last year - and there were just six female chief executives across the top 80 UK energy firms.

And around three quarters of the 80 energy companies reviewed still have no women in executive board roles, a drop of one percentage point since last year.

‘All-male boards unacceptable in 2023’

Commenting on the data, Katie Jackson, chair of PfW, said: “It’s disappointing that we have once again seen only a slow climb in the number of women occupying the key decision-making roles on UK energy company boards. The sector seems to be stuck trailing the wider business community, where the FTSE 350 has already reached 40% women on boards.”

Jackson added: “The fact that we still have almost a quarter of energy companies with all-male boards is simply unacceptable in 2023. At this critical time when the energy system is changing, companies need to change too. The industry needs to be much better at diversity so that it has the innovation and leadership for a successful energy transition and is much more representative of the consumers it serves.”

‘Diversity needed for energy transition’

Trade association Energy UK said it was working with PfW and the industry to share best practice as part of its Tackling Inclusion and Diversity in Energy taskforce.

Dhara Vyas (pictured above), deputy chief executive of Energy UK, said: “The energy industry is tasked with tackling climate change – the biggest challenge of our generation – therefore we need all the innovative ideas and perspectives that come from a truly diverse workforce.”

She added: “Diversity and inclusion within the sector goes much further than gender alone, so it is important to ensure companies across the sector are committed to generating a fully inclusive space to solve the challenges ahead of us.”

'A challenge for the whole wind industry'

Ben Backwell, chief executive of GWEC, said the organisation’s ‘Women in Wind’ initiative called on male and female industry experts, as well as other stakeholders in the global south, to support the advancement of women in the wind industry.

He added: "The issue of representation is an issue for the whole global wind industry to tackle. These numbers show there are some areas of improvement to celebrate, but that must not mask that the industry needs to deliver increases in representation on every metric.”

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