In the Nigerian oil and gas industry, the lack of diversity plagues all levels of the workforce. This is not an isolated scenario, it resonates globally, where the decisions of the energy giants are strongly influenced by a homogenous group, dominated by people. It is a stark reminder of the urgent need for change, not only for industrial development, but to achieve economic vitality and long-term sustainability.
For our industry, in the same class, means more than the filling of quotas; It is about building an industry that authentically renders the face of Nigerian and African society. With women making up a substantial part of the population, we are not the only energy sector holders of the class – we are central to its narrative and its ultimate transformation. Embracing gender (and age and skill) diversity is not just an option; It is the world’s leading industry for a more inclusive and prosperous future. In Nigeria, the cause of diversity is still pronounced. Nigeria’s energy sector has long been a crucial economic driver, creating the first arena for positive change.
Inclusivity as an industry imperative
Gender equality, diversity and inclusion are more than just words; They are essential elements of modern and sustainable energy. Globally, companies have come to realize the tangible benefits. of inquiry by the Peterson Institute for International Economics revealed in 21,980 public companies in 91 countries that companies with more women in leadership roles increased the correlative profit of these companies. Similarly BCG to announce showed that companies with diverse management teams achieved 19% higher returns due to innovation.
The evidence is clear: these studies consistently confirm that diverse teams make sharper decisions.87% of the time and twice as fast!) to have better problem solving and fuel innovation. The achievement of a sector that needs to diversify its workforce is not driven solely by altruism or solely around social responsibility. It’s also not just about the wisdom of people’s considerations, but about reaping the benefits of a wider talent pool and economic viability.
Isabella Kocher, former CEO of Engie, is a compelling example of the need for greater inclusion within male-dominated fields such as oil and gas. Under his leadership, Engie departed from its traditional role as a gas and electricity utility to become a leader in renewable energy solutions and clean technology.
Representation is only the beginning: not “why” but “how”?
This also shows that representation is only the beginning: true empowerment requires women in positions of power and decision-making. Kocher demonstrated the benefit of Engie’s leadership in challenging the status quo and driving energy transformation. A PWC study the largest listed oil and gas companies globally found that women occupy only 11 percent of boards, with a greater proportion of women holding non-executive roles than executive roles. Boards in terms of seats, the only energy with thinner mining!
The debate is no longer about “why” but about “how” we achieve this progress. This same study found that four critical points in a woman’s career are a woman’s, indeed anyone’s, ability to make it to the board level: career start, development opportunities, senior management, promotion and board organization. To the sixth we proceed as follows. It seems that diversity is mainly related to gender, as is evident in the management of women in the pipeline. Companies can take concrete steps to accelerate positive change: establishing a clear diversity policy with measurable targets to ensure women in key positions is vital. At Lekoil, we were intentional about this. As we prioritize merit and experience, our board, including the company secretary, can still maintain a 50:50 male/female split, led by a female person. It is essential to foster an inclusive workplace culture in which gender diversity is not just a box, but a core value. Supporting networks, practicing leadership and business skills, rolling out programs and providing equal pay and opportunities are also fundamental steps.
I said before Africa is waking up from its slumber for renewable energy. The industry is at a crossroads, and the need for gender diversity in roles has never been more pressing. The challenges of the future require new perspectives and inventive solutions, and women have proven time and time again to bring those qualities to the table. Sustainability, both in terms of environmental responsibility and economic growth, is at the heart of an industry’s ability to embrace diversity, foster innovation and adapt to a rapidly changing world.
Amplify the ‘S’ in ESG
I spoke in a board at Africa Oil Week, industry experts discuss ways to enhance the “S” in ESG, specifically through the lens of diversity. The industry’s growing discussions around inclusion have been explored, and deservedly so. Finally, we agree that a different force is not only a social responsibility; it is an economic and strategic advantage. Companies in this industry to raise this benefit, strengthen their commitment to diversity and treat it urgently; beyond the historical ideas of extracting development resources, they serve to claim the growth and power of the people themselves.
We are in a role where diversity and inclusion are key to fostering sustainable growth. To break free from old forms, to create a more inclusive and attractive energy sector that will benefit future generations. As I like to say, empowering women is simply good business, but really empowering them is the only way to secure our future.
About the author: Kike Fajemirokun is a people management strategist with over 13 years of experience building human resource infrastructure across multiple markets. She is currently the GM, Human Resources & Admin at Lekoil Nigeria Limited.