Women in energy: essential for business and society

Rio de Janeiro, March 31st, 2022 – Traditionally male, the energy sector has registered an increase in female participation, but equal opportunities and space are still far from necessary. To have an idea, a study presented by the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena) indicates that the areas of energy in general and oil and gas have only 22% of their jobs held by women. When it comes specifically to the renewables sector, that number rises to 32%.

In addition, another study, this time carried out by the executive selection company FESA Executive Search, reveals that, in the 25 main energy companies operating in Brazil, only 6% of leadership positions are held by women. If we look at management positions, the percentage reaches 19%, while in business support functions the number corresponds to 13%.

Despite representing more than half of the Brazilian population, it is possible to notice the difficulty of women in occupying spaces in predominantly male segments, especially in management and leadership positions. Considering the importance of the energy sector for the country’s development, this scenario represents a loss for business and society. After all, as Irena points out, female engagement as an agent in the implementation of renewable energy solutions is known to improve sustainability and maximize socio-economic benefits.

Diversity in the workplace in its most varied forms – such as gender, social, ethnic and cultural – is statistically correlated with better financial performance, as well as the presence of women in the workforce, being even stronger when it comes to management positions, where strategic and operational decisions are usually made. According to the consultancy McKinsey & Company, companies with at least one woman in their executive team are more profitable, having 50% more chances of increasing profitability and 22% of increasing the average Ebitda margin, one of the indicators used to measure results and to create value for a company.

In addition, this portion of the population also contributes – and a lot – to the performance of the ESG (Enviromental, Social and Governance) agenda, which has become an important competitive requirement for the corporate market. A study carried out by Master’s student Monique Cardoso, at Fundação Getúlio Vargas, shows that, in general, companies with female leaders (52%) have high ESG scores, and this percentage drops to 48% among companies that have only men in management positions. . When female leadership reaches the board level, the difference is even greater: 72% to 24%, respectively. In addition, companies with greater diversity tend to be more innovative and collaborative, providing a healthier work environment and greater retention of talent.

Gender diversity at the highest level is also a determining factor in the development of policies and methods to address the risks of climate change. Organizations, including electricity utilities and oil producers, with 30% or more of board positions held by women, tend to score better on environmental disclosures, according to BloombergNEF and the Sasakawa Peace Foundation. Research shows that female leadership is more likely to define clear climate governance strategies, show greater transparency in disclosing information and improve business performance. 

To change the current scenario in the sector, it is essential that companies invest in creating open and collaborative organizational cultures and policies in order to generate an inclusive environment in which there are more opportunities for women to actually feel more valued and, thus, develop important skills for the future of the business and to inspire other professionals. EDF Renewables do Brasil, for example, is one of the companies in the sector that prioritize gender representation and equity: 40% of the company’s staff and 42% of management positions are composed of women, including the vice-president’s chair.

Furthermore, it is also important to implement and support initiatives that encourage the training of women in technical areas and invest in the training and development of leaders to encourage a greater number of women in these positions. Companies must reflect the evolutions observed in the country and in the world – where women are advancing in several aspects – and become agents of change to increase the female presence in the energy sector and, thus, achieve gender equality, benefiting not only the business, but also society with female representation.

Author: Luísa Moreira, director of operations at EDF Renewables do Brasil.

About EDF Renewables:

EDF Renewables is a leading international renewable energy company, with a gross installed capacity of 15.6 GW worldwide. Its development is mainly focused on wind and solar photovoltaic energy. EDF Renewables primarily operates in Europe and North America, but continues to grow and establish itself in promising regions such as Brazil, China, India, South Africa and the Middle East. The company also has strong positions in offshore wind energy and other areas of the renewable energy industry such as distributed energy and energy storage. EDF Renewables develops, builds, operates and maintains renewable energy projects, both for itself and for third parties. Most of its international subsidiaries are branded EDF Renewables. EDF Renewables is the subsidiary of the EDF Group specializing in the development of solar and wind energy. In Brazil since 2015, EDF Renewables Brasil is among the country’s leaders in the renewable energy sector, totaling 1.3 GW in projects, installed and under construction, of solar and wind energy in Bahia, Minas Gerais and Paraíba.