Guest blog by Linda Emery, Director, Group Resourcing Projects and Policy, BP
As the global energy demand increases, so do the challenges facing E&P companies in meeting this demand. Increasingly we find ourselves working in difficult environments, new locations and more varied and complex markets. This means that we also require a greater variety of skill sets and diversity of thought from our workforce in order to safely provide the energy that the world needs.
In order to capitalize on the emerging opportunities in today’s market, large energy companies need to be innovative and competitive in attracting, motivating, developing and retaining the best and most diverse talent the world offers. A workforce representative of the society where it operates is vital to success. Companies are working to form lasting, local relationships because, given the increasing competition for top talent, the need to identify and have access to new talent pools is now more important than ever.
This need is compounded by the threat of a “skills gap”: an anticipated void in the talent pipeline as the number of potential retirees from the industry increases. In order to bridge the skills gap, the industry must be seen as an attractive choice for people from different nationalities, races, genders and sexual orientations.
Historically the oil and gas industry has faced challenges recruiting women for their workforce, but in recent years BP has taken steps to reduce these challenges. As a global company, BP works to recruit and retain the best talent reflective of our diverse areas of operation. We believe success comes from the energy of our people and are committed to having a vibrant and diverse workforce.
One of the challenges women have faced is the perceived lack of senior female role models for women. This has often been cited in the industry as a key challenge, but BP and other companies in the sector are working diligently to address this problem. In the US, BP partners with the Society of Women Engineers, an organization whose core mission is to enhance opportunities for women to achieve their full potential in their careers as engineers and leaders. In the UK, BP is supporting an undergraduate mentoring program where young women can engage with other successful female scientists and engineers from BP through “Springboard,” a partnership initiative in conjunction with Oxford University. This ultimately gives female students an insight into what a career in engineering actually involves.
For the first time BP has set internal goals for gender representation and will hold leaders accountable for taking all reasonable steps to seek out suitably qualified women candidates to reach these goals. At present over 17 percent of BP’s top 500 leaders and almost 19 percent of its top 5,000 leaders are female, with both ratios having increased in the last two years. The company also has one woman on its Executive Team and two on its Board.
BP is actively combatting the stereotype that the oil and gas industry is male dominated with a limited range of roles and career progression opportunities for women. BP is reaching women very early in their careers – including in high school and college – to promote science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers, dispel myths and highlight the variety of jobs available to women within the industry. BP’s internship programs give women the opportunity to gain insight into the variety of positions available at the company, in areas such as naval architecture, health and safety, geosciences, and production, just to name a few. BP supports efforts that help women overcome stereotypes and succeed in the oil & gas and business sectors in the US. By partnering with Menttium, an organization that provides a forum for women to share ideas, ask questions and engage in conversation with other mentees and mentors who share their interests, BP is continuously working to promote an environment where everyone can succeed.
In addition to the measures above, BP is also focusing on providing more support for female students during their journey in the STEM education pipeline. Parents, peers and teachers are all critical influencers in a woman’s key stages of development; however, young women are often steered to follow traditional opportunities. BP and other companies in the industry must continue to demonstrate that the oil and gas industry offers women a rewarding and challenging career path.
Increasing the number of women in an organization is only a piece of the broad diversity and inclusion (D&I) agenda. We believe that the development and implementation of a D&I strategy should allow for continual refinement in order to ensure the company’s continued success. The industry has come a long way when it comes to diversity of thought and workforce, and through collaboration it can continue to develop for the better.