Blogs & Thoughts

Guided by different voices: How diversity is shaping the changing workplace

The winds of change have been blowing for a while, with opportunities to disrupt the status quo being seized left, right and centre.

The energy sector is one of many areas where the next generation of talent are keen to challenge the old, accepted norms as they look to get their feet on the career ladder. The 2020 International Renewable Energy Agency’s (IRENA) 2020 Wind Energy: A Gender Perspective report revealed the number of women working offshore was significantly low. This is much the same for a lot of other sectors.   

IRENA’s report might not seem to have much of a connection with workplace design, but the gender balance in what was an overwhelmingly male-dominated commercial property sector is slowly changing. At Space Solutions, we’ve actively looked to address this issue, going from 75% : 25% to 66% : 34% since 2020 in terms of the gender balance (male to female); some of this change has been on the operational side of the business and some within our professional services division. We recognise there’s still more to be done, but a positive change is progress in the right direction.   

Many of the North East-based respondents in our 2023 workplace insights survey reported that hiring the right people with the right skills was very challenging in the current economic climate. Progressive employers who place an emphasis on flexible working policies can differentiate themselves from their competitors and reap the benefits of this workplace flexibility as it makes them more attractive in the job market and opens up opportunities for women and men who are re-entering the workforce.  

A better gender mix within any organisation is part of a wider societal push for a more diverse workforce, one that “reflects a modern Scotland”. Again, our 2023 survey highlighted that workplace issues such as diversity were being discussed openly by the next generation of talent who are looking for potential employers to do more than just tick boxes and cover the walls with business values.  

Diversity means more than just having an EDI group in the workplace (though that’s generally a positive start). It’s as much about encouraging diversity of thought and seeking alternative opinions. It’s also about bringing in new skills to organisations and learning from those who have experience in other sectors. Global challenges are more likely to be solved with multi-disciplinary efforts and by getting input from a variety of sources. The world needs fewer echo chambers and more input from those with different perspectives.  

With International Women’s Day earlier this month, on Friday 8th March, it’s time to reflect on how different experiences and different worldviews can lead to very different, and hopefully better, outcomes. As Christine Lagarde, the former head of the International Monetary Fund, said in 2018 “if it had been Lehman Sisters rather than Lehman Brothers, the world might well look a lot different today.”  

Perhaps if the winds of change keep blowing, we’ll see a reversal of the gender gap. For the energy sector and others that can only be a good thing.  

This article first featured in Energy Voice March 2024.