Diversity and inclusion has been described as the bedrock of strength, knowledge and expertise in the energy sector.
According to The Director, External Affairs and Sustainability, Seplat Energy Plc, Dr Chioma Nwachuku, it has also been responsible for the inclusion of hitherto excluded groups towards achieving best results in workplace.
Nwachuku, who was the lead speaker at a forum on Africa women in energy which was organised by Energy Corporate and Africa, in Houston, Texas, said this on Friday.
The forum had the theme; “Improving Diversity, Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability in the Energy Sector”.
She said the excluded group goes beyond just gender, race, age, disability status, and ethnicity, among others.
According to Nwachuku, research has shown repeatedly that more diverse workforces are better for innovation, result in happier and more productive employees, and increase retention levels.
She said those dividends ultimately drive economic growth and sustainability globally.
Nwachuku said: “It is proven that the value of decision-making benefits from the strength of diverse perspectives.
“In the energy sector, embracing diversity will be vital for companies looking to drive value creation cum retention toward realising sustainable business goals in short, medium and long term.”
On how to improve diversity and inclusion in the energy sector, the director said that there were still many gender barriers and stereotypes that must be broken.
Nwachuku said that was necessary for the industry to move forward and reach its full potential, particularly with the energy transition drive.
She said: “Strengthening gender diversity in the energy industry requires unrelenting long-term efforts to boost inclusion.
“Although there is a growing demand for talent, the industry currently faces a significant challenge in finding and retaining talented staff in a competitive global market.
“The energy sector needs to recruit aggressively in the next decade to enable its workforce to keep pace with the energy transition.
“To truly foster innovation and equity, recruitment needs to include goals to improve diversity within the energy industry.”
According to her, employees with different backgrounds and experiences bring their unique strengths to help teams tackle problems, uncover new ideas, and create the right environment for innovation to thrive.
She said: “McKinsey’s ‘Diversity Matters’ report found that “Companies in the top quartile for gender or racial and ethnic diversity are more likely to have financial returns above their national industry medians.
“Conversely, companies in the bottom quartile in these dimensions are statistically less likely to achieve above average returns.
“Hence, creating gender equity needs to be supported at all levels of an organisation and is everyone’s responsibility. It starts with leading by example.
“Walk the talk, be supportive and unafraid to call out biases, and then own the opportunity to identify and address them.
“Leaders play a crucial role in ensuring gender equity and can achieve this through hiring, development and succession to ensure gender balance and equal opportunity.”
Nwachuku said there was need to also work on the supply of that talent by boosting the number of women entering STEM programmes.
This, she added would help to achieve a gender-balanced recruitment.
“When the recruitment hurdle is scaled, we need to look at ways to mitigate the limits to opportunities for certain types of operational jobs for women.
“We need to address harmful stereotypes about job roles and advancement opportunities that unnecessarily hold women and men back across the talent pipeline.
“The female gender makes up 48 per cent of the world workforce population. It will be beneficial to capture the value of inclusion of this human resource in the workforce that will drive the future of the Energy sector,” Nwachuku noted.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Energy Corporate and Africa team also presented to Dr Nwachuku the “Community Capacity Building & Sustainability” award for her outstanding contributions in community development and sustainability in Seplat’s areas of operation.