The energy industry in Nigeria grapples with a lack of diversity, echoing a global trend where male-dominated groups wield substantial influence over crucial decisions in energy companies. This prevailing scenario underscores an urgent call for change, not just for industry progression but also to ensure economic vitality and sustained development.

Going Beyond Quotas

Gender parity in the energy sector extends beyond mere numerical quotas; it aims to construct a workforce genuinely representative of Nigerian and African society. Women form a substantial part of the population and are intrinsic stakeholders in the energy sector, pivotal to its narrative and essential transformation. Embracing diversity in gender, age, and skill isn’t just an option but serves as a guiding compass steering the industry toward an inclusive and prosperous future.

Inclusivity: An Imperative for the Energy Industry

The terms “gender parity,” “diversity,” and “inclusion” transcend mere buzzwords; they form the bedrock of a modern, sustainable energy industry. Global companies have acknowledged their tangible benefits. Research shows that greater female representation in leadership roles in companies correlates with increased profitability. Similarly, diverse management teams contribute to a 19% revenue boost owing to innovation, as per a BCG report.

It’s evident that diverse teams make agile decisions, excel in problem-solving, and fuel innovation, propelling the sector forward. The realization that the workforce needs diversification isn’t merely driven by altruism or social responsibility. It’s also about tapping into a broader talent pool for economic viability.

Isabelle Kocher, former CEO of Engie, stands as a beacon for greater inclusion in traditionally male-dominated fields such as oil and gas. Under her leadership, Engie shifted from a traditional utility role to a leader in renewable energy and clean technologies.

Representation is just the Beginning: How to Propel Progress

However, representation is just the starting point. Genuine empowerment requires women in influential decision-making positions. A PwC study reveals that women occupy a mere 11% of board seats in the largest oil and gas companies globally, indicating a pressing need for change. The debate has shifted from “why” to “how” to achieve progress. To foster gender diversity, it’s crucial to ensure a clear pipeline of women into management. Concrete steps include instituting diversity policies with measurable targets, fostering an inclusive work culture, and providing support networks, leadership training, and equal opportunities.

Africa’s renewable energy potential is awakening. The industry stands at a crossroads, demanding greater gender diversity in decision-making roles. Women’s fresh perspectives and innovative solutions are critical to the sector’s sustainability and adaptation to a rapidly evolving world.

Amplifying the ‘S’ in ESG

Discussions at the Africa Oil Week panel emphasized the industry’s growing focus on inclusion, recognizing diversity as both a social responsibility and an economic advantage. To leverage this advantage, companies must commit to diversity beyond historical resource extraction practices, championing growth and empowerment.

The Path Forward

Diversity and inclusion stand as crucial pillars for fostering sustainable growth. By breaking free from conventional molds, the energy sector can create a more inclusive and vibrant industry benefiting future generations. Empowering women isn’t just a profitable endeavor; it’s also a step towards securing our collective future.

About the author: Kike Fajemirokun is a seasoned people management strategist, boasting over 13 years of experience in building human resource infrastructure across diverse markets. Currently serving as the GM, Human Resources & Admin at Lekoil Nigeria Limited.