Each for Equal: a blog by Danni Barnes

International Women’s Day is 8th March and is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women’s equality. Danni Barnes, Director of Operations at NEA talks about experiences of working within the sector and celebrating achievements.

As a woman working in the energy sector, I feel extraordinarily fortunate that I have never felt held back or excluded from opportunity because of my gender. I have been surrounded by strong, ambitious women (and men) from within my family, my friendship group and throughout my career, who have not only supported me but actively encouraged me to strive for more, even when I didn’t think I could do it. That said, I know my experience is not everyone’s experience.

The energy sector remains one of the least gender diverse sectors, last year just 6% of executive board seats were occupied by women, and 42% of major energy firms didn’t have women represented on their Boards at all. I can’t help but wonder how, in the year 2020, we still haven’t tackled the gender balance dilemma when the solutions are so simple, and the benefits speak for themselves. We can only assume unconscious (or perhaps in some cases conscious) bias continues to play a big part as well as lack of flexibility. I welcome the great work being driven by the Powerful Women movement; however, their very existence shows we still have such a long way to go.

Last year I became a Mum, one of my greatest achievements, but with it came a lot of challenges; every day becomes a balancing act between making sure I am doing the best for my family and the best for my team. I am fortunate to be part of an organisation that embraces flexibility and actively encourages work life balance – in the modern age of technology we simply don’t need to be chained to our desks 9-5 Monday to Friday.

It is not only about gender balance, it’s all areas of diversity, make your organisation inclusive and representative of the diverse communities you seek to serve and you are more likely to be able to address the needs of the people you work with and serve as well as develop and grow as an organisation. We are at a critical point of change across the energy sector, the journey to get to net zero remains uncertain and full of challenge but what is certain is that we need to take communities on the journey with us and protect the interests of those most at risk. To do this we must work openly, collaboratively and inclusively, making the most of the huge talent and expertise on offer, otherwise we risk making huge mistakes and those who will suffer the most will be those who can least afford to.

I hope, as a Senior Manager, I can offer the support, both practically and emotionally, that I have had throughout my life to my friends and colleagues which spurs them on to achieve their potential. The benefits of having a diverse and balanced workforce are well documented, so, to quote another colleague whom I admire dearly, we need to make it happen.

Find out more about International Women’s Day here: https://www.internationalwomensday.com/

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