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breaking down barriers for gender balance

“Diversity and inclusion not only form part of Chevron’s core values, the Chevron Way, they also make good business sense,” said Chevron Upstream Europe (CUE) managing director Greta Lydecker, who recently participated in a networking breakfast in Aberdeen focusing on addressing inclusive leadership and gender balance.

Hosted by Sodexo, a key service provider for CUE’s offices in Aberdeen, the event featured a presentation from Allyson Zimmerman, executive director of Catalyst Europe, a non-profit organisation with a mission to accelerate progress for women through workplace inclusion. Fellow industry leaders Colette Cohen, chief executive officer of the Oil and Gas Technology Centre, and Will Serle, chief people officer at Amec Foster Wheeler, joined Greta for a wider discussion and questions from the audience.

From left to right: Will Serle, chief people officer at Amec Foster Wheeler; Allyson Zimmerman, executive director of Catalyst Europe; Susan Elston, senior vice president for Sodexo

Will Serle, chief people officer at Amec Foster Wheeler; Allyson Zimmerman, executive director of Catalyst Europe; Susan Elston, senior vice president for Sodexo's UK and Ireland Offshore and Marine business; Colette Cohen, chief executive officer of the Oil and Gas Technology Centre; Greta Lydecker, managing director of Chevron Upstream Europe.

Research recently conducted by Catalyst shows that companies with a higher percentage of women in executive positions have a 34 percent higher total return to shareholders than those that do not. Pertinent to the oil and gas industry, Allyson focused her discussion on the ‘leaky pipeline’ of talent that exists within Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines, where the impact of gender imbalance is most significant.

On the topic of STEM, Greta highlighted the importance of early investment and outlined the positive impact and influence it can have on education and career choices.

“In 2015, the business unit invested more than £1 million through STEM education initiatives, university alliances and technical apprenticeship programmes to support the development of U.K. talent because we know today’s school pupils could be tomorrow’s engineers and scientists.”

Investing early is working as Chevron’s graduate hiring programme in the U.K. has seen a trend of increasing numbers of female engineers. However, the imbalance across the industry remains, with fewer than 10 percent of engineers being female (source: Institute of Engineering and Technology).

In 2015, Chevron received the prestigious 2015 Catalyst Award for its ‘Chevron Way: Engineering Opportunities for Women’ initiative. The award honored innovative initiatives by companies committed to the recruitment, development and advancement of women.

Greta explained: “We have an inclusive work environment that values the uniqueness and diversity of individual talents, experiences and ideas; this encourages people to contribute and feel valued for their input.

“There are simple actions we can all take to create an inclusive workplace. This includes getting involved in one of the workplace councils focused on promoting diversity across Chevron. One local example is the working parents’ network being created in Aberdeen to provide support and advice to those managing the demands of a career and family.”

Greta went on to share her own personal experiences of unconscious bias, including having recently met with Chevron’s own Men Advocating for Real Change (MARC) forum, an initiative of Catalyst. MARC brings emerging and senior male leaders together to sharpen awareness of inequalities, unconscious biases and the skills required to drive change. Importantly, it also offers a space to tackle subjects openly and honestly through discussion.

This year, Catalyst launched its CEO ‘Champions for Change’ initiative which brings together more than 40 CEOs and senior leaders who are visibly driving and supporting diversity. Chevron Chairman and CEO John Watson is one and the company is proud of its focus on the critical importance of diversity and inclusion to business performance.