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New Council Study Shows Inclusion and Diversity Progress Despite Pandemic

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic and lower oil prices in 2020, the percentage of women in the U.S. energy technology and services sector rose to nearly 20% over the past three years, countering a recent trend of women dropping out of the overall national workforce, according to the latest study by the Council and its research partner, Accenture.

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

The study found that the percentage of women in the sector rose to 19%, almost reaching the Council’s 20% goal set in 2018 and up from 16% that year. However, this figure trails women’s 47% representation in the overall U.S. workforce.

Certain ethnicities, 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 latest Bureau of Labor Statistics report.

“This year’s study results are encouraging, especially considering the pandemic-related jobs losses that peaked at more than 100,000 in the energy services sector,” said Council CEO Leslie Beyer. “As women and minorities left at larger rates than the overall U.S. workforce, this brings greater pressure on oil and gas companies pursuing inclusion and diversity goals, and that is a challenge. Diversity will remain key to creating the new ideas that companies need to deliver a safe, affordable and sustainable low-carbon future.”

The report highlighted areas where companies in the energy technology and services sector globally 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
  • 40% offer formal mentorship programs

“Retention and advancement programs can grow with increased endorsement from C-suite leaders, whose visibility is key to boosting workforce diversity,” said Ben Carey, a managing director who leads Accenture’s energy equipment and services practice. “For example, leaders should collaborate more closely with employee resource groups where more women and minority leaders can share how they navigated their careers so that others can better follow their examples. This will be vital for all functions, but especially the digital technology 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.

The study included surveys of more than 25 companies, covering approximately 250,000 working men and women globally — including more than 63,000 employees in the United States. Companies with fewer than 1,000 global employees were specifically included, in addition to the largest sector participants, to gain insight into practices prevalent throughout the sector. The Council also analyzed published data related to a range of workforce issues, including labor force, progression, talent gaps, culture at work, company statistics by level and company best practices.


The Council will discuss the findings with Members during a webinar at 10 a.m. on June 10. In addition, the Council and Accenture will host workshops exploring results and offering recommendations on July 13 and August 5.

The study will also be used to update the Council’s inclusion and diversity toolkit, which provides Members with resources to make lasting changes within their companies, as well as curriculum for the Inclusion & Diversity Business Champion Program.

For additional information, contact Council COO Molly Determan.

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