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Africa Oil Week and Lean In Energy Collaborate on Stimulating the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Agenda

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Africa Oil Week

Societal pressures on global businesses to establish workplaces that foster inclusivity, equity, diversity and belonging have played an invaluable role in the evolution of the human capital environment.

In embracing and promoting this movement, Africa Oil Week (AOW) and Lean In Energy (https://LeanInEnergy.org) (LIEN) are delighted to announce their recently concluded partnership as they work together to host AOW Accelerates: Diversity & Inclusion at AOW 2021, and look to drive greater equity practices at workplaces of the future, particularly for women, across the energy sector.

Africa Oil Week 2021 will take place in Dubai in November as a COVID-19 precaution, but will be back at its usual venue in Cape Town, South Africa from 2022.

Previously known as AOWomen, the AOW Accelerates: Diversity & Inclusion initiative champions greater diversity and gender parity across the industry.

“Over the past three years, we have worked hard to provide a more equitable platform for female industry leaders at Africa Oil Week –  from Ministers and Commissioners to SVPs and managers from the private sector,” said Catriona McDavid, Senior Content Manager for AOW.

“I'm thrilled to be working with Lean in Energy to host the 2021 edition of our evolving initiative under the new name of AOW Accelerates: Diversity & Inclusion, where we'll unite stakeholders to stimulate progressive dialogue on equity issues across the African energy value chain.

“I am pleased to welcome as partners, the UK’s Department for International Trade represented by Her Majesty’s Trade Commissioner for Africa, Emma Wade-Smith OBE, who has agreed to chair the breakfast programme,” she added.

Commenting on what precipitated this partnership with LIEN, McDavid said: “I’ve been collaborating with Lamé Verre for the past two years on AOWomen and welcomed her appointment to LIEN in the role of Co-Chair for Europe & Sub-Saharan Africa. LIEN is a respected, global organisation, and its mission is so closely aligned with what we’re striving to achieve and support across the African upstream, the partnership felt like a perfect match.”

Lean In Energy is a non-profit organisation and an offshoot of Lean In Org, which has a very simple mission built around the philosophy that behind every woman is a circle of women, and on the back of that mission, Lean In Org is designed to help women achieve their ambitions and create an equal world.

“At Lean In Energy, our mission is to empower women and allies in energy or interested in energy, to achieve their ambitions through peer-to-peer mentoring, community, public awareness, education and advocacy,”  says Lamé Verre, who became Co-Chair for Europe & Sub-Saharan Africa at the start of the year.

“For LIEN, the alliance with AOW provides a collaborative platform for both organisations to reach a much wider audience. At the same time, together, both organisations can elevate the voices of female leaders. This mission is critical to everything we do at LIEN. Through the #HerStory firesides and roundtable series, female leaders, especially African female leaders, have a platform to tell their stories in their own words.

“Our goal is to serve anyone who identifies as a woman in the energy industry, and while doing that, we also want to deliver on the following United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs):

LIEN’s member support programmes are varied, but are specifically targeted to address identified gaps, with the most significant three being:

  • Regional outreach approaches to reach members in specific geographies – with online being an excellent platform to reach a much wider audience;
  • Special interest groups, for example, Women in Clean Energy, with programmes focused on providing support for these specific areas in the energy space;
  • A two-tiered mentoring programme:
    • the small group mentoring programme – with one mentor and four mentees which runs for six months
    • the flash mentoring programme – designed specifically for women to meet a short-term objective

Lamé explains how these flash programmes can be used in targeted, specific situations:

“Find out who is available and sign up for a one-hour conversation to plan an encounter – perhaps a difficult discussion with your boss. Remember this is a targeted, short-term intervention, and doesn’t provide for an ongoing supportive mentoring relationship, which in any event may not be appropriate.”

To celebrate International Women’s Day, AOW interviewed key female leaders from across the African upstream to discuss gender parity issues and the impact the pandemic has had on their working lives.

Inevitably in the past two years, living in the COVID era has brought enormous difficulties. The world of work has moved along at a rapid and for some, relentless pace, online platforms demanding of us to balance professional priorities with seemingly mundane domestic rhythms, presenting a real threat to gender diversity.

Many women have found this to be deeply stressful. Irene Waage Basili, CEO of Shearwater GeoServices notes that “the extended home office situation could lead to a setback for professional women.  Statistics indicate that women take more of the responsibility of children and housework in these situations.”

She adds: “I believe it is extremely important that women – and men – return to the office setting as soon as the pandemic is under control, and do not fall for the temptation to seek extended home office solutions.”

Emeliana Rice-Oxley, VP, Exploration in Upstream Business at PETRONAS has a slightly contrarian view. She has observed that there is growing respect for the role women play in managing their careers and taking care of their families as spouses.

“Bosses who are also spouses themselves get to witness first-hand, since everyone is stuck at home, the juggling act women must undertake every day.  This experience can help minimise the unconscious bias placed upon women where they tend to be perceived to be less ambitious and unable to manage or progress their career because of family commitments.”

It will be interesting to watch how these situations are eventually resolved, although it is worth repeating here the results of a global survey of women in energy who largely chose “flexible working options” and “remote working opportunities” in favour of the traditional office environment and working hours.

The same survey suggested that “working on solutions to meet evolving energy demands” and “a variety of projects” are what excite women most about the industry.

Companies that want to be part of this sustainable energy future need to retain their best talent post-pandemic and therefore must put diversity and inclusion at the forefront of their strategies.

As the world prepares to accelerate the energy transition and embarks on the journey to a low carbon economy, the role of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) cannot be overemphasised – the business case is clear, and the workforce gap is even clearer.

In the words of former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States Ruth Bader Ginsburg: “'Women belong in all places where decisions are being made”.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Africa Oil Week.

Are you interested in getting involved in the D&I conversation in the oil and gas sector? Join AOW Accelerates: Diversity & Inclusion at AOW 2021. Register here (https://bit.ly/3iF9osC).
For more information on LIEN’s activities go to : https://bit.ly/2VIXnJK

For further information or to request an interview please contact:
On behalf of Africa Oil Week
James Duncan
Email: james@rasc.co.za

Marion Brower
Email: Marion@rasc.co.za

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