How AES is closing the gender gap in the energy sector

December 14, 2018

The energy sector has traditionally been male-dominated. The women who did choose to work in power or utilities often faced obstacles preventing them from reaching their highest potential. A lack of female leadership at the highest levels also contributed to the sector being one of the least gender-diverse. We’re intent on closing this gap, and believe the future depends on it.

The 2017 U.S. Energy and Employment Report shows that women make up 34 percent of the electric power generation and fuels workforce. The agency includes fossil fuels, nuclear, and renewables within this category, as well as related facility construction, generation equipment manufacturing, and wholesale parts distribution. By mid-century, these jobs will have increased four-fold and women will be needed to fill them.

A gender-diverse future is a greener future.

The report indicates progress in the area of renewables like solar and wind where women, despite the growing fields, are already more than one-third of the employees. Female entrepreneurship in green companies is on the rise. Overall, renewables are catalysts for job creation, industry development and energy access.

Digitalization and automation are also opening up greater prospects for female engineers, analysts and data scientists. Early education, in STEM for instance, and training programs are vital to filling these roles and making a difference for women in the energy sector. Workforce flexibility, mentorship, training, parenting support, fair and transparent processes, equal pay initiatives and diversity targets are also necessary to make progress quickly.

On a more fundamental level, energy access is imperative for increasing women’s participation in the industry. With nearly every aspect of society build on electricity, access to it provides entry into healthcare, education, and technology. It also reduces workload burdens associated with managing a home.

Renewables help close the gap by enabling electrification through microgrids, for example. Infrastructure projects provide employment to local communities, and partnerships with the private sector are key in promoting gender equality and inclusion through social programs.

Closing the gender gap

AES has already committed to reducing its carbon intensity by 70 percent from 2016 levels by 2030. Along with our shifting portfolio, we believe diversity and inclusion are essential to living up to our mission of improving lives by accelerating a safer and greener energy future.

We’ve created new programs that enhance the integration of gender equality into our policies with the ultimate goal of hastening adoption, enhancing sustainability and maximizing outcomes. Specifically, we’ve committed to increasing representation of women in leadership at AES to 25 percent by 2020 and 30 percent by 2022.

Tracking percentages of promotions and development rotations, we report results to our board of directors and purposefully provide female talent growth opportunities. We have set policies to create gender-diverse candidate pools and strive for a 50/50 balance of new hires in new positions. This includes our new “Energy4Talent” program to recruit and cultivate the next-generation of leaders directly from college. We’re also ensuring appropriate pay ratios and rewards.

Women make up nearly half of the world’s population. Only with their full inclusion will we have the capabilities, knowledge, and skills for a successful organization and sustainable world. The programs mentioned here are just the beginning for AES, and I’ll continue to provide updates on our efforts as they develop.