NEWS & INSIGHT | Opinion
International Women’s Day 2021
Colette Cohen OBE
Colette Cohen is the Chief Executive Officer for The Net Zero Technology Centre and has worked in the oil and gas industry for more than 25 years. Colette successfully launched The Centre in 2017 and has established it as the ‘go to’ technology centre for the industry. Since starting her career offshore with bp in 1991, Colette has worked for ConocoPhillips in the North Sea, Norway, the US and Kazakhstan, where she received a Jubilee Medal from the Kazakh Prime Minister in recognition of her contribution to the country’s oil and gas industry. Prior to joining the centre, she was Senior Vice President for Centrica Energy’s Exploration and Production business in the UK and The Netherlands.
Colette has previously served on the board of Offshore Energies UK and the OGA Decommissioning Board. She currently sits on the Boards of the National Strategy for Economic Transformation Delivery, Deep Ocean, NORECO, Technip Energies and the Technology Leadership Board. She is also a Commissioner for the Just Transition Commission for Scotland, an active champion for the industrial transition of the oil and gas industry to a net zero future and a committed role model for women in industry.
Colette is a chemistry graduate from Queens University Belfast, has a Masters in Project Management and Economics from Ceram University, an honorary doctorate from the University of Aberdeen, and is a member of the Society of Petroleum Engineers and the Institute of Directors.
Recently released data highlighting women on boards in the UK has been super encouraging with an increase of 50% in the number of women on FTSE 350 boards in the last five years. It’s still only 34.3% representation overall, but that’s a real step change over the last generation. We’re still not there on the executive teams, but again that is moving in the right direction with nearly 30% female executives on leadership teams now. Most recently, I notice at multiple events – all virtual – a marked increase in the number of women on the panels and in discussions.
So, it made me wonder… is the virtual world we are currently experiencing providing a levelling up effect? Is it just that more women are in senior ranks and being asked, or is it that the virtual world is accessing more people and that ‘spotlight’ is making organisers more conscious of their choices? And… perhaps how they will be perceived if their gender balance isn’t good?
Could this lockdown – while obviously creating many challenges and barriers to both mental health and work life balance – also be providing new opportunities to gender equality? Will this greater opportunity for exposure, engagement and participation of women result in a fundamental change in how women are perceived and received in the C-suite? Will this result in greater debate, thought leadership and overall diversity of thought?
This levelling up could further accelerate the gender balance we aspire to. And surely if we can get the balance in leadership, in visibility and in voice, that balance in gender pay will also materialise at a faster pace than current predictions. And then… the holy grail… true diversity in the work force. An increase in gender equality has been shown to increase the productivity and creativity of teams, it results in increased knowledge sharing and employee engagement, higher financial returns for the company and a broader positive impact on the community.
There is a huge prize there.
As we come out of lockdown, and we consider our new ‘work normal’, our blended schooling and our inevitable blended working environment, I would encourage all of us to think about how we can ensure that we maintain this focus on gender inclusion, deliver on this gender levelling up.
We need to seize this opportunity to create the environment to deliver gender balance across our organisations knowing it will also help us create the environment for true diversity in the workplace.
So, as we celebrate International Women’s Day today, let’s challenge ourselves to think what we can do in our team, office, event, workplace to ensure that as we create our new normal, we create a BETTER normal – one that enables gender diversity, maximises everyone’s potential and writes new rules for how we live and work. Let’s embrace the challenge to #BeBetterToday.
#InspiringWomen #WomeninEngineering #WomenLeaders #PowerfulWomen #APlacefforEveryone #Breakalltherules #ReWriteHowWeWork
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