Study Shows Inclusion & Diversity Progress for Sector

By Molly Determan, Energy Workforce & Technology Council

New research by the Energy Workforce & Technology Council and Accenture found that the percentage of women in the U.S. energy technology and services sector rose to nearly 20% and set a baseline for race/ethnicity at 25%.

The progress for women came during the pandemic, which caused widespread workforce disruptions in the national workforce. The study found that the percentage of women in the sector rose to 19%, up from 16% in 2018, almost reaching the Council’s 20% goal. However, this figure trails women’s 47% representation in the overall U.S. workforce.

“Improving gender diversity against the backdrop of a global pandemic is encouraging,” said Council Board Member Gabriel Rio, President and CEO, Milestone Environmental Services. “The study also shows we have more work to do in creating an inclusive workforce in the sector.”

Building on the gender diversity study published in 2018, the 2021 study draws on insights from approximately 250,000 workers, including more than 63,000 in the United States. This year’s report, which reflects 2020 jobs figures, uses a revised methodology to include race and ethnicity along with gender.

Ethnic minority groups, which were not part of the 2018 study, comprised 25% of the sector, compared with 36% for all areas of the U.S. workforce, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The report highlighted areas where companies can increase participation in equality and leadership advancement for women and minorities, including:

  • 40% of companies have C-level endorsed inclusion and diversity strategies
  • 56% offer paid primary caregiver parental leave
  • 66% offer learning and development initiatives targeted at inclusion and diversity
  • 32% offer basic flexible work programs, such as telecommuting (pre-pandemic)
  • 40% offer formal mentorship programs

“It’s moved from something investors asked about on the side to a central question when they’re deciding to allocate capital,” Rio said. “The diversity issue is something the industry can control and set goals around trying to improve.”

It’s important for the industry to hold itself accountable to measurable results as it is doing with the study, workshops and training programs, said Maria Lorente, Human Resources Director, Schlumberger. “Engagement from leadership is important, and we companies need to build strategies that cover the entire talent lifecycle — recruiting, retention and advancement.”

Accenture’s Ben Carey, a managing director who leads the energy equipment and services practice, said executives would be wise to invest their time in specific inclusion and diversity actions that can help make lasting change.

“Retention and advancement programs can grow with increased endorsement from C-suite leaders, whose visibility is key to boosting workforce diversity,” Carey said. “For example, leaders should collaborate more closely with employee resource groups where more women and minority leaders can show how they navigated their careers so that others may better follow their example. This will be vital for all functions, but especially the digital and service functions that will help drive the industry’s recovery.”

The report makes three additional recommendations to enhance the resilience of the future energy workforce:

  • Attract diverse, innovative talent, strengthen employee value propositions and identify new sources of talent to shape the future of the industry.
  • Focus on retention — keeping women and ethnic minorities in the workplace.
  • Amplify advancement opportunities — mentorship and leadership role-modeling.


Research continues to show companies benefit from establishing an inclusive leadership team and workforce. Businesses with inclusive cultures and policies report significant increases in creativity, innovation, openness, and profitability.

“When we work with people who are different, we’re exposed to new ideas and new ways of thinking,” said Lamonica Spivey, Inclusion, Diversity and Social Responsibility Director, TechnipFMC, who chairs the Council’s I&D Engagement Committee. “It gives each of us the opportunity to question why we’re doing things the way we do and break us out of the ‘this is always how we’ve done it’ mode.”

Inclusion and diversity is becoming a business imperative as ESG investors increasingly look to companies for actionable and measurable plans. For many investors, issues of diversity and equity are intertwined with environmental and governance metrics. Inclusion and diversity can weigh heavily on overall ESG performance because investors understand that companies with more diverse leadership teams report higher income from innovation.

According to management consulting firm McKinsey & Company, companies with gender diversity on their executive team were 25% more likely to have above-average profitability and value creation. Companies with ethnic diversity in the C-suite were 36% more likely to have above-average profits. The greater the representation, the higher the likelihood of outperformance.

“A culture of diversity is highly valued by our workforce, particularly younger people,” Lorente said. “This makes it mission critical for companies trying to attract the next generation of talent.”

According to Weber Shandwick, half of millennials want to work in a diverse and inclusive workplace.

“The energy industry is in an era where innovation and technological development will be essential to meet growing energy demand and reduce greenhouse gases,” Spivey said. “We need the brightest, sharpest, best-educated minds we can find as we reinvent ourselves for a low-carbon future.”


The Council is working to provide Members with the resources needed to establish cultures of inclusion and diversity.

The 2018 gender diversity study demonstrated the value of giving visibility to inclusion and diversity metrics. This year’s study allows the Council to track those metrics and evaluate what works and how we can drive progress.

Council initiatives encompass:

Research — The 2018 and 2021 studies, as well as ongoing work to quantify employment in the sector and address its evolution.

Training — Study findings are being used to update the Council’s inclusion and diversity toolkit and the curriculum of the I&D Business Champion Program.

Resources — The Council provides best practices for companies to increase diversity — including how to best use employee resources groups and providing sponsorship program models — as well as brokering partnerships to increase recruitment and talent pipeline diversity.

Networking — The Council offers opportunities for Members to share experiences and strategies to learn from peers and strengthen the sector.

The 2021 research also identifies future focus areas. These include developing a pipeline of diverse talent for leadership roles, offering competitive compensation, reviewing company practices and implement I&D policies, and including ethnic diversity. The Council is committed to being our Members’ partner in their inclusion and diversity journey.

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