When talking about women in the workplace we often think of diversity. The term diversity has been nuanced over the years in the workplace in human resources capacity and inconsistently. It is important that we review the literature on the term and perhaps focus on a workplace that enforces gender balance. 

Although organisations acknowledge their need to close the gap between male and female employees, the efforts in South Africa seem to not pay off just yet. In the renewable energy sector, female representation consists only of 14% of employees. The representation of women and men in board positions is skewed, and to some extent, it is moving backwards.

Studies have shown the inclusion of women and people of diverse ethnicities and gender identities may:

  • Reduce corporate risk and improve governance
  • Increase innovation
  • Increase return on assets
  •  Improve the use of available talent
  • Improve corporate performance

So, the question is, why does practicing inclusion during the structuring of an organisation, hiring and recruitment processes seem onerous? According to GWNET (Global Women’s Network for the Energy Transition), it is due to deep historical roots where external factors such as stakeholders and governments interfere with the market, national and global regulation, and the Western business practice was established during a time where only men worked outside the family. As a society, we’ve come a long way to improve on this but there is still much to be done. It is worth commending the solar PV industry for being in the lead on bringing full-time women employees on board. According to the new IRENA report, the solar PV industry has the highest share of women employees, reaching 40% in 2021 only. Making women more visible in leadership roles not only strengthens your organisation and diversity portfolio, but this creates role models in different social, cultural, ethnic or gender traits and this can inspire women to challenge gendered career paths.

Bringing more women on board is a collective effort that holds advantages economically and socially. The emphasis should be on creating more opportunities for training and coaching and closing the employment and pay gap during the hiring process. These strategies should align with investments in training and scholarships in STEM disciplines.

Advice for women in the industry:

  • Seek out opportunities – entering the market can be difficult, but most renewable energy and sustainability companies/organisations have internship programs. Take on these opportunities to get a head-start in the industry
  • Challenge stereotypes – whilst it is not up to women to challenge those stereotypes, it is necessary. Share your inputs with employers about the value of a workforce that reflects diversity, this brings about different and innovative ideas, talents, and perspectives.
  • Grow your network – whether it is through networking events or mentorships, seeking opportunities and connecting with like-minded women provides an environment to share insights and produce valuable outcomes which ultimately leads to better professional performance and understanding and creating more opportunities throughout your career path.

At AltGen we are proud to say that we continuously focus on growing our database with female candidates of all ethnicity groups to be able to deliver and represent a holistic skillset availability in the market and assist clients with inclusive recruitment practices through our engagements.