Africa Oil Week and Lean In Energy to accelerate diversity, equity and inclusion agenda

AOE LeanAfrica Oil Week (AOW) and Lean In Energy (LIEN) have announced a partnership as they work together to host AOW Accelerates: Diversity & Inclusion at AOW 2021, and look to drive greater equity practices at workplaces of the future, particularly for women, across the energy sector

Africa Oil Week 2021 will take place in Dubai from 8-11 November as a COVID-19 precaution, but will be back at its usual venue in Cape Town, South Africa from 2022.

Previously known as AOWomen, the AOW Accelerates: Diversity & Inclusion initiative champions greater diversity and gender parity across the industry.

“Over the past three years, we have worked hard to provide a more equitable platform for female industry leaders at Africa Oil Week –  from Ministers and Commissioners to SVPs and managers from the private sector,” said Catriona McDavid, senior content manager for AOW.

Commenting on what precipitated this partnership with LIEN, McDavid said, “I’ve been collaborating with Lamé Verre for the past two years on AOWomen and welcomed her appointment to LIEN in the role of co-chair for Europe and sub-Saharan Africa.”

“At Lean In Energy, our mission is to empower women and allies in energy or interested in energy, to achieve their ambitions through peer-to-peer mentoring, community, public awareness, education and advocacy,”  said Verre.

“For LIEN, the alliance with AOW provides a collaborative platform for both organisations to reach a much wider audience. At the same time, together, both organisations can elevate the voices of female leaders. This mission is critical to everything we do at LIEN. Through the #HerStory firesides and roundtable series, female leaders, especially African female leaders, have a platform to tell their stories in their own words.

“Our goal is to serve anyone who identifies as a woman in the energy industry, and while doing that, we also want to deliver on the following United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs):

LIEN’s member support programmes are varied, but are specifically targeted to address identified gaps, with the most significant three being:

• Regional outreach approaches to reach members in specific geographies – with online being an excellent platform to reach a much wider audience;

• Special interest groups, for example, Women in Clean Energy, with programmes focused on providing support for these specific areas in the energy space;

• A two-tiered mentoring programme:

o The small group mentoring programme – with one mentor and four mentees which runs for six months

o The flash mentoring programme – designed specifically for women to meet a short-term objective

To celebrate International Women’s Day, AOW interviewed key female leaders from across the African upstream to discuss gender parity issues and the impact the pandemic has had on their working lives.

Many women have found this to be deeply stressful. Irene Waage Basili, CEO of Shearwater GeoServices, noted, “The extended home office situation could lead to a setback for professional women. Statistics indicate that women take more of the responsibility of children and housework in these situations.”

Emeliana Rice-Oxley, vice-president, exploration in upstream business at PETRONAS has a slightly contrarian view. She has observed that there is growing respect for the role women play in managing their careers and taking care of their families as spouses.

“Bosses who are also spouses themselves get to witness first-hand, since everyone is stuck at home, the juggling act women must undertake every day.  This experience can help minimise the unconscious bias placed upon women where they tend to be perceived to be less ambitious and unable to manage or progress their career because of family commitments.”

As the world prepares to accelerate the energy transition and embarks on the journey to a low carbon economy, the role of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) cannot be overemphasised – the business case is clear, and the workforce gap is even clearer.

In the words of former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States Ruth Bader Ginsburg: “'Women belong in all places where decisions are being made.” 


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