Steps joins the line-up at the POWERful Women Conference 2022
Progress towards gender balance at the top tables of the UK energy industry remains shockingly slow. Women are also underrepresented in the executive pipeline and recent research has revealed that women in middle management experience substantial barriers in cultivating their career and reaching the C-suite.
This year, POWERful Women’s Annual Conference provided a unique, hybrid platform through which to tackle some of these crucial challenges. Then discuss together how companies can build more inclusive, supportive cultures and close delivery gaps when it comes to D&I. Steps felt privileged to join over 100 attendees live in-room and an additional 300+ online, at an event that brought professionals in the energy sector together to share experiences, learn from each other and explore best practice. At Steps, we pride ourselves on delivering change – and this event felt like a unique opportunity to put gender equity in the spotlight and discuss its impact on the ‘trilemma’ facing the energy sector – of affordability, security and climate.
One of the keynote speakers said ‘In order to tackle the trilemma we undoubtedly need diversity of thought and the brightest minds around the table to consider the options, think through solutions and to steer progress’. More than once we heard in the room that this was not just a ‘business challenge’ that we all face – it’s a challenge that the human race relies upon, indeed the world relies upon. It’s not often we get to talk in such pivotal terms about the impact of our work – but it was impossible not to feel that sense of urgency and collective responsibility in the room.
That sentiment set us up for a thought-provoking day of panel discussions, hybrid debate and conversation, action-led group sessions and keynote speeches that put gender equality front and centre. How do we learn from the positive progress happening in some organisations, as well as challenge ourselves to do better, expect better and take ownership for change where there are shortcomings? There was a breadth of experience in the room which led to lively and varied debate, but there were also quieter moments of individual input and disclosure, enabling honest and candid conversations that are often harder to achieve when in larger groups.
Steps led a workshop session which explored the practicalities of having challenging conversations. Drawing on examples from a recent POWERful Women research study, we used drama to hold up a mirror to some of the behavioural challenges we face when we encounter conversations about career, feedback and performance. Our team actively involved the participants, encouraging them to share their own experiences and best practice outcomes to help build skills and confidence in having challenging conversations, and to foster a culture of honesty and inclusion within their teams and organisations.
We are proud of our association with POWERful Women – a fantastic network of passionate individuals striving to make a difference – and to be part of such an inspiring day of conversation and action. We have programmes currently underway with clients in the energy sector (including Drax) – and look forward to collaborating with others to deliver people-led change and help them to achieve their goals in D&I. Never has a challenge felt more significant, more urgent or more necessary.