Global HR Leaders Speak About Sustainability, Diversity and the Future of Energy Industry

The next two decades will see the energy industry rediscover itself as we globally transition from our dependence on fossil fuels to renewable, sustainable energy. Most global energy companies have made significant strides towards a sustainable future with investments in renewable and innovative technologies. The role of HR leaders will be crucial in this transition as it calls for new innovative technologies, new skills, and new ways for organizations to work to achieve their goals.

According to Manuel Bougeard- HR Transformation and Integration Director at ENGIE,

“The biggest challenge for the energy sector today is sustainability. To combine our business and the environmental emergency is not only our duty, but it is also our mission. The energy sector faces a real revolution considering the expectations of the clients and the situation of the planet. The responsibility we have is immense. The HR teams will have to consequently change their practices, their mindset and even their DNA to go further than being only business partners: they must become real business leaders. That is the purpose and the driver of our HR Transformation at Engie as we concentrate all our efforts to become the world leader of the zero-carbon transition.”

Gerard Penning- Executive Vice President, HR Downstream at Shell is of the opinion that the energy industry needs to get creative to cater to the increasing global demand for energy in a sustainable manner.

“The crucial role of the Human Resource function in the energy sector is to help organizations to better change and adapt to the changing environment. HR leaders should be equipped to guide organizations to adapt and reposition to change through modeling different ways of working, new ways of performance management, rewarding people, helping the people learn new skills and to engage better with other stakeholders.”

”It is good that there is a lot of focus on gender diversity now as there is a lot of work to be done in that area in the Energy Sector. We shouldn’t forget the different areas we need to be diverse in. Balance is the magic word here. Diversity is a lot about what we can learn from each other. Generally, a more diverse team delivers better results. Also, when you have a minority in a team, less than 20 %, it’s very hard for the minority to get heard or taken seriously as the majority tend to dominate the conversation. If we look at the leadership cadre in Shell, in the downstream, 26% of our leadership is female. Next year the target for us is 30%, and I can say that we are moving in the right direction.”

As guardians of the most valuable assets of organizations- its people, HR leaders will play a crucial role in this transition, supporting the key organizational functions.

Joaquin Hormaechea Alonso – Director Talent, Culture & Internal Communication at Repsol says,

“All strategic decisions for organizations would need to consider whether the company has not just financial but also the talent capital that is needed to achieve its goals.HR leaders have to help enhance the employee experience through co-creation, creating an environment optimal for diversity, and evolving from inside out to outside in. As ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) investment criteria will grow in importance, the role of HR will be very important due to the strong linkage with employee & society and governance.”

Joaquin of the opinion that an Organization’s HR strategies are a source of competitive advantage and he feels that it is fundamental to have a strong enterprise focus in diversity & inclusion (cognitive, gender, cultural, age, etc.).

“Diversity must be a component in an organization’s overall business strategy. A company convincement that valuing differences is essential for overcoming business challenges and improve innovation and creativity. Organizations should offer the ability to create a culture where diversity can thrive. Strong training should be imparted in unconscious biases, in implicit partiality, and leaders need to become conscious of our biases and limitations.”

The energy sector remains one of the least gender diverse, and there is a lot to be done to close this gender gap. Women in leadership positions are key to drive organization-wide innovative and inclusive solutions, especially at a time when the whole industry is undergoing a core transformation.

Maria Dalmalm – VP of HR & Strategic Development at Vattenfall is of the opinion that male leaders and female leaders can learn a lot from each other. She says,

“Male leaders can learn to listen to female employees because they might get another response than “he” expects. And of course, this goes vice versa. Sometimes it is often as simple as simply asking, how is it to be a woman in this environment?”

According to Zdravka Demeter Bubalo – SVP HR at MOL Group,

“Both female and male leaders are bringing different perspectives and approaches to the table, equally valuable. Trust, open communication and understanding each other’s differences are the core of a good collaboration, independently from gender.”

The virtual conference on HR workforce digitalisation 2021 brings together HR leaders from Energy sector in an exclusive business-friendly environment to discuss challenges and best practices for creating a seamless, digital workforce.  Connect with us to know more.

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