by AKANI CHAUKE
JOHANNESBURG – AN executive has advocated for the inclusion of more women in the oil and gas sector to address the skills shortage and lack of innovation.
Pan African energy lawyer NJ Ayuk, who is managing partner of Centurion Law Group, a pan-African corporate law conglomerate that specializes in energy, extractive industries and the financial sector, noted women represented about 22 percent of the industry’s global workforce in 2017.
Participation dropped to 17 percent at senior and executive-level roles.
Only 1 percent of the chief executive officers in oil and gas were women.
A study released at the 2016 World Economic Forum, “the Future of Jobs,” reported a 32 percent pay gap in the oil and gas industry globally.
Another study by the University of Massachusetts in 2018 found that oil and gas had the highest rate of sexual harassment charges of any industry in the United States.
“No wonder then that there is a skills shortage,” Ayuk stated.
He said oil and gas were competing for the same kinds of people as technology firms and the renewable energy industry.
“Both of these sectors are new, exciting, dynamic, and above all, are associated with progress and progressive values.”
Ayuk is the author of a new book, “Billions at Play: The Future of African Energy,” in which he states that to stand any chance of recruiting and retaining top talent, the oil and gas industry must present itself in a similar way and that process starts with a genuine commitment to gender equality and women empowerment.
He stated the industry could take actions all along the chain, from supporting programs encouraging young women to take part in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education.
Ayuk said this would increase the visibility of women in senior positions and ensure women received the same chances to be promoted as men.
“Diversity of gender brings different perspectives and life experiences that in turn lead to innovation and new, creative ideas,” he said.
Focusing on Africa specifically, Ayuk said there was even more that the oil and gas industry could do to support women in the local communities their companies were active in.
“The oil and gas industry is missing a golden opportunity to empower women by partnering with and purchasing from female entrepreneurs, who could provide a vast range of services and goods, from logistics to engineering to food services,” he said.
“One of the most glaring examples of the oil and gas gender gap is the industry’s failure to work with local female-owned micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises as supplies, service providers, and partners.”
– CAJ News