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Blog: #choosetochallenge – pursuing gender equality in renewables

Today, 8th March, is International Women’s Day (IWD). This date has become increasingly significant over recent years. Together with numerous other initiatives and importantly, key activists and leaders, it has driven gender equality to the top of the agenda amongst other critical diversity and discrimination issues.

This year’s IWD theme is #choosetochallenge, raising a hand to challenging gender stereotypes, biases and to celebrating women’s achievements. A call to empowerment through dialogue. By challenging normalized practices, we can collectively establish new ones.

IWD - EMEC Collage - 640

The recognition of women’s rights has come a long way over the past century. Nonetheless, it is necessary that we understand that our social structures are a long way from an inherent state of equal rights and opportunities, away from prejudices or biases in the gender sphere. This is true of our daily, individual lives and routines, but also within the workplace where gendered biases create particular barriers and ‘glass ceilings’ that organisations have to recognise, process and proactively tackle.

EMEC is within a traditionally gender-skewed sector – the energy sector. The renewable energy sector has a greater proportion of women than the traditional energy sector, at 32% versus 22% respectively (IRENA, 2019), but the % remains low, and the gap widens the higher one climbs the decision-making ladder (ibid., p.39).

We remain faced with two (if not more) determinant glass ceilings to break through. Firstly, the systemic inequalities within the work environment for women (which, incidentally, also revert negatively on men – although this is a topic for another time); and secondly, the gendered prejudices pertaining to STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) disciplines and professions.

At EMEC, we are on a journey to identify and challenge gender biases in the workplace and ingrain gender equality into our work culture.

For many years we have been conscious and committed to a gender equal workplace. From defining our hiring practices to our core values, the EMEC team has always embraced diversity and firmly stood up against discrimination. Over the last ten years we have seen the percentage of women in our organisation increase from 33% to 46%. Moreover, in higher decision-making roles at EMEC, there is 25% female representation at executive level, 50% split at senior management level and additionally, 50% of our Board members are women. Whilst this is higher than the energy and renewables sector averages, there is still room for improvement.

More recently we have embarked on a new journey, building on the intention and the commitment embedded in our company culture to delve deeper into these issues. We have carried out anonymous surveys to better understand how EMEC is perceived and experienced by our staff. We received heartening feedback, particularly regarding flexible working hours, reconciling work with childcare and supporting parental leave across both genders.

Since 2019 we have been hosting ‘Women in EMEC’ sessions working with external counseling to uncover the different forms of gender discrimination that can emerge in the workplace.

Focusing both on the workplace generally, and on EMEC and the energy industry specifically, we have begun to unpick the underlying subtleties to understand our co-workers’ realities. In doing so, we aim to create open spaces to engage in a conversation where our biases can be challenged. By discussing experiences and sharing viewpoints, we hope to move towards an increasingly equal, respectful and brave team, a team that chooses to challenge gender discrimination and that celebrates female empowerment.

To be able to #choosetochallenge discriminatory actions and biases, we first need to be aware of and recognise what those can look like. Whilst at EMEC we know we still have a long way to go, we are also one step closer to reducing discriminatory biases within our workplace, contributing our grain of sand to the societal transformation at hand.

Do you have any recommendations to enhance workplace diversity and inclusion?

Please feel free to get in touch!


Lara Santos Ayllon

Stakeholder Engagement Officer

Lara Santos Ayllon








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