Gender disparity in leading and upcoming industries is an issue that is steadily gaining voice on global platforms.
Within the renewable energy industry, women represent a higher percentage of the workforce at 35 percent compared to the wider power sector. In the MENA region specifically, over half of clean energy companies state that they employ more men than women, with only 29 percent claiming equal numbers of both genders.
As our industry continues to explore new heights and governments across the Middle East increasingly turn to more sustainable sources of power, there is a need for the representation of women in the sector to increase.
A study investigating more than 1,500 companies found that having more women on their board of directors led to more investment in renewable energy and greater consideration of environmental risks in their financial decision making. In addition, further analysis of the power and utilities sector underlined the link between having more women as decision makers and increased profitability, return on investment and innovation
But what is the role that we, as a company investing in and developing renewable energy projects, can play to eradicate gender disparity?
In the last few years, we a number of global initiatives that have been conceived to achieve this very purpose. One example is the WOCAN’s W+ standard that ACWA Power has embraced in Morocco.
W+ and other gender related frameworks build up recognition of the social capital created by women, as well as reward their contributions to sustainable environments and communities. Secondly, they stress the importance of improvement access women in local communities to basic services, such as education and healthcare, with a strong focus on encouraging females to take up science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects. Finally, these projects address the need for there to be an increase in the income and employability of women, to help ensure gender equality.
There is still a way to go before absolute gender equality can be fully achieved. A key point to remember is that not only does including more women in the renewable energy workforce make business sense, but it also makes up part of the commitment that clean energy companies took upon themselves when we first set out to power the communities we operate in. And that makes all the difference.
2BNEF, CEBC, and IRENA, 2017