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AXIS Pledge Senior Leaders Roundtable, 15th May 2024 AXIS Reflections

The AXIS Pledge was launched in 2019, with the aim of bringing together and engaging energy leaders in the pursuit of gender equality. Launched with the backing of an initial 12 energy organisations, the pledge has since been taken by a total of 50 organisations, spanning the UK’s energy sector and associated services. Earlier this month, senior leaders from those organisations gathered for peer-to-peer discussions on all things gender equity, from D&I strategy and gender inclusive recruitment and attraction, to returner programmes, parental leave and flexible working, gender pay gap reporting, and thoughts on D&I KPIs beyond quotas.

The sessions generated lots of healthy discussion, and allowed for shared reflection, best practice, some cautionary tales and practical advice.  We hope our leaders found the sessions valuable and took away lots to think about and we look forward to welcoming them back for part two later in the year. If your organisation hasn’t yet taken the pledge but should, please do encourage them to reach out.

Whilst the detail of the discussions remains confidential, we’re able to share a few of our own highlights and reflections.

●     D&I Strategy: It matters, but being strategic about D&I is more than what’s written on paper. Senior level buy-in and senior engagement matters and two-way communication with employee resource groups is vital. The significance of nurturing the right culture was discussed where diversity and equity would arise as a result. This is a common thought process within D&I; focusing on an inclusive culture the outcome will be a diverse workforce.

●     In news that won’t surprise anyone, the debate on hybrid working continues. Those including it on job adverts report a very positive response in applications. We discussed its appeal to a more diverse workforce (i.e. it supports equal caregiving, disabled workers, remotely located high talent workers), but noted a current lack of training for line managers in how to manage in this new world where a different approach to managing teams is required. An interesting discussion against a backdrop where, perhaps in response to the challenge of managing hybrid and remote working teams some companies within the industry have chosen to move back to more office based working. AXIS Network believes that the challenge of successful hybrid and remote working is a critical component of a progressive, sustainable workforce that continues to attract the future talent needed to deliver a successful energy transition.

●     On that note, we need to make sure flexible working (when we work) isn’t lost in the conversation on hybrid working (where we work). We love to see senior leaders commit to working flexibly and being open about caring and other responsibilities; they provide important role modelling for others. Normalising career breaks will create workplaces that can support everyone and remove barriers many people face in requesting leave, returning from it and ensuring career opportunities are not lost because of it.

●     We spoke about the general attractiveness of our industry to all and how we each have a part to play in attracting a talented future workforce. There was some great suggestions on how to do so: Where time allows: Commit to widening your interview shortlist, meeting more candidates, giving more people an interview experience (and feedback), and meeting more talented people.

●     Equalisation of parental leave is now understood as an important factor in making our workplaces gender equal. Organisations are encouraged to flip the script and consider the long term cost of not implementing this and whether organisations and as an industry, we can really afford to not invest in supporting parents. (Hint: we can’t).  The comparison with other industries is stark.   

●     Gender pay gap reporting (GPG) hasn’t driven progress as quickly as hoped for, and unfortunately is still undermined by confusion with equal pay. Have confidence in your sustainable long term actions to address equitable representation across your workforce. You can view our latest analysis of GPG here.

●     We can all sigh in relief that our leaders understand that targets and quotas make us all a bit uncomfortable. Of course, views differ on whether they could be helpful in kick-starting action and driving focus and attention, but it’d be dull if we all agreed on everything! We noted that where unrealistic targets are set (e.g. 50% gender representation in a field where one gender is underrepresented), this tends to negatively impact smaller organisations, and this isn’t fair or sustainable in the longer term.

●     Finally, a special mention for our guest speaker, Anouska Carling of STEM Returners. I think it’s fair to say that most of us left feeling motivated to ringfence a role or two for a career break returner and putting in place the support needed for talented people who have been out of the industry for a number of years.

We very much enjoyed the level of engagement and energy the roundtable participants brought to the sessions and appreciate that leaders continue to recognise the important role D&I plays in attracting, developing and retaining the talented workforce needed to deliver sustainable operations and the energy transition. If you are interested in becoming a Pledge member, please contact us here.



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