Energy Leaders Gather to Challenge Bias at ALLY's IWD Summit

Written by:

Rhoda Shapiro

At this year’s International Women’s Day Summit, ALLY Energy brought leaders together from multiple organizations, sparking meaningful conversation and providing a platform for others to choose to challenge bias in all forms. 

The event started with a one-hour conversation, moderated by Castlen Kennedy from Apache Corporation and featuring Authors Dr. Michael E. Webber and Johnnie Johnson, who spoke about their powerful book, which is entitled “From Athletics to Engineering: 8 Ways to Support Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for All.”

Dr. Webber, who is a Professor at the University of Texas and also Chief Science and Technology Officer at ENGIE, brought up how essential it is to realize that the fate of women will affect the fate of the world on the whole.

Women are key stakeholders. We should have women as part of the decision-making process in engineering,”

Dr. Michael E. Webber

Dr. Michael E. Webber at ALLY's 2021 IWD Summit.

He also mentioned that his company ENGIE, which is based in France, is deeply committed to ensuring that women are heard and represented in the workplace — so much so that they have a 50-50 goal of integrating more women and achieving 50% managerial parity by 2030. 

Johnson, who is a former NFL player and is now CEO of World Class Coaches, spoke of seven words that he encourages everyone to consider: beliefs, habits, attitudes, expectations, personalities, egos, & emotions. He mentioned that social harmony and gender equality for all begin with those seven words and the ways in which we align to them. 

Johnnie Johnson at ALLY's 2021 IWD Summit.

No matter who we are, where we came from, we all have implicit biases, and we all have blindspots…"

Johnnie Johnson

Johnson also spoke about how having a diverse team provides for more perspectives and allows others the opportunity to point out our blindspots.

After taking some questions from the audience, the Summit moved toward a panel of women executives in energy who are doing incredible work -- Anne Psencik (Chief Strategy Officer at EagleClaw Midstream), Dr. Johanna Haggstrom (Vice President of Chemicals and Hydrocarbon Fuels Technology at LanzaTech), Mariela Poleo (President of the Simon Bolivar Foundation and Interim General Manager of Government and Public Affairs at CITGO), and Sarah Delille (Vice President of Business Development at Equinor). 

It was alarming to learn just how similar the women’s experiences were. Most of them mentioned that during their careers, they had been approached by others who assumed they were admins when they weren’t, and thus assigned them with admin-oriented tasks. 

Sarah Delille spoke of how necessary it is for those in executive positions to do something to promote equity in the workplace and to “walk the talk”... 

Don’t just say you believe in diversity and inclusiveness and then not do something concrete about it.

Sarah Delille

She spoke of the unconscious bias training at Equinor and how necessary it is to have training, as well as mentoring programs for minorities. 

Anne Psencik seconded Delille’s emphasis on mentoring. She also noted that EagleClaw Midstream’s CEO Jamie Welch always worked to make himself available to people, and that the company had an Open Door Policy. 

“It’s a top-down driven culture around mentoring and balance,” said Psencik. 

A panel of amazing women at ALLY's 2021 IWD Summit.

Educator and Author Erin Twamley was also present to speak about her new book “Everyday Superheroes: Women in Energy,” which she’s working on in collaboration with ALLY Energy. The book will aim to depict 26 women in various energy roles all over the world, be it in the field, the lab, or the office. This nonfiction book will aim to open the eyes of children, the better to help them understand and appreciate how energy works and what role women play across varying energy sectors. 

Author Erin Twamley speaks at ALLY's IWD Summit.

For the last part of the event, people split up into breakout groups to have more intimate conversations around bias and discuss how they will be challenging it in their daily lives. When people returned from the breakout rooms to share the details of their commitments, the level of energy was off-the-charts. Participants declared their commitment to a number of things, like raising their voices, being respectful of other people’s experiences, getting rid of the term “man hours” and replacing it with “work hours,” mentoring women, and even supporting men in feeling safer with having candid conversations while women are in the room. 

We want to thank our sponsors CITGO and EagleClaw Midstream for their support in making this event possible. 

We also want to thank our incredible line-up of panelists: You brought so much openness, truth, and vulnerability to the conversation. The ALLY team appreciates every single one of you. 

To continue the Women’s Month festivities, we’ll be having a virtual Wine Tasting Reception on Thursday, March 11. Sign up here.

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