LEWAS Impact

Making Diversity Policies Work

By Pedro Miras,

President, World Petroleum Council

We tend to think of diversity as a human rights issue. Of course, that is true, but for companies, it is also an issue with a tangible economic return. When we create equal opportunities, we broaden the spectrum of potential candidates and as a result, we can appeal to the best people.

It is about attracting and retaining talent. That is the main benefit that companies need to understand when implementing an effective diversity policy.

Talent is undoubtedly the best asset a company can have. The future of our industry will be based on technology, and technology, in its many variables, does not distinguish between gender, age, origin, or any other human condition; it only understands investment and talent. Therefore, in addition to adopting an ethical stance, it is a matter of pure profitability. Diverse teams unequivocally deliver better performance, whether 50%+ higher ROE in companies with 3 or more female directors or 9% higher EBIT from those with diverse leadership teams*.

The questions to ask are how to move from theory to practice, what works and what will drive us in this challenge. I see two aspects that overlap with each other. Determined senior management when it comes to intent and flexibility. These two ambitions are strategic, with other actions being more tactical and complementary to the above.

Strong top management intent is essential. Throughout my professional life, I have worked with more women than men. In the National Energy Commission in Spain, all my front lines were women. Later, when I was Chairman of the Strategic Reserves Corporation, the Steering Committee was, due to a pure talent issue, mixed with the exact representation of women and men. Now, in my current responsibilities, this is also the case.

I have never selected my staff for anything other than their talent or technical, personal, or interpersonal skills. Likewise, I have never considered specific tasks to be more "masculine" or "feminine," so, in certain circumstances, it has been an additional challenge for all of them. It is about not making distinctions of any kind but being consistent and applying them at all times.

Senior management commitment is a constant and expansive endeavor that must be shown in everything done throughout the day. People must perceive conviction and that the day-to-day practice is exemplary. The Untapped Reserves gender parity report prepared by BCG alongside the WPC reveals that if male employees think that D&I is a priority for their CEO, they are four times more likely to indicate that it is a priority for them as well.
Flexibility is the other strategic factor. Reconciling personal and domestic responsibilities with a professional career is in many cases, a complex equation to solve if flexibility and the possibility of conciliation are not provided. And this applies to men and women alike.

By way of example, many times, great professionals have told me that they did not want the decision to become a mother to impact their career negatively. And neither, on the contrary, that their career would negatively impact their motherhood. I have always responded in the same way in this scenario. The important thing is a job well done, no matter the timetable or presence, and for this to happen, all the necessary flexibility must be provided. The results in these cases have always been very positive, and the reconciliation of both aspects (personal life and work) has been perfect. And this was at a time when flexible working models did not exist.

The COVID pandemic, terrible as it was, has left us with a positive lesson, and that is that we have tools to allow maximum flexibility so that no one can condition their professional career by personal circumstances. And here, again, the commitment of top management is crucial.
"This is an industry that has always been innovative in our mission to provide energy to humanity in a responsible way and to continue this ambition we need all the talent we can recruit."

Pedro Miras Salamanca, President,

World Petroleum Council

Our industry, as revealed in the Untapped Reserves report, has remained stable over the last six years at 22% female participation in the workforce. We have to ask ourselves whether it is logical that, when we look for the best people, the result we get is that 68% turn out to be men and only 22% women. Indeed not, and that is why we still have a long way to go.
In summary, let us demand flexibility and commitment because that is the only way we will have a chance of attracting or retaining the talent that our industry needs. This industry has always been innovative in our mission to provide energy to humanity in a responsible way. To continue this ambition, we need all the talent we can recruit. Let's work together to remove the barriers we have had in the past to employ the very best people.

*source Catalyst/BCG
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