Why Diversity Needs Men’s Help and How Diversity Helps Men

Written by:

Michelle Leigh Smith

Last week at Gastech, the former Principal Deputy Director in the Office of Policy in the U.S. Department of Energy, Carol Battershell opened up with four focal points aimed at altering behaviors for a fairer future. Men unequivocally lead an industry where 85 percent of the executive leadership is composed of white males. That XY chromosome pond populates 95 percent of CEOs. So the message is clear: Diversity needs men.

“Although in 2015, women constituted nearly half (47%) of the U.S. workforce, they made up only 17% of the energy industry,” stated Battershell. “African Americans account for 12 % of the U.S. workforce but make up only 7% of the current energy workforce.”

Martha Feeback, Senior Director, Catalyst Inc.

Battershell believes that with a more tailored management approach and more accountability, real change can occur. Her query into why Diversity & Inclusion initiatives may be overlooked found that this is a crucial time for change. Recent analyses project a dearth of energy workers going forward. “This shortage should hopefully lessen men’s concerns about a scarcity of opportunities,” she explained.

A study by University of Houston Energy Fellows outlines a number of external or demographic factors contributing to a forecasted shortage of energy workers. “Over half of the energy workforce, baby boomers like me, will be retiring in the next seven years,” said Battershell. Another 2017 Ernst & Young survey found that men were concerned about losing opportunities for advancement and over a third of men felt conversations about diversity overlooked white males.

“Because many white men just don’t see where they fit in the D&I programs, they sometimes see these initiatives as a zero-sum gain.”

With more than 35 years in energy – oil and gas, electricity, renewables in strategy and operations roles, Battershell knows that employees, as well as corporate leaders, want to understand why change is needed, but want to see the business case.

Battershell issues a clear list of tasks

“I’ve worked with mostly men my entire careers,” Battershell shared. “And many men I know appreciate a clear list of tasks. So, I have a list of four actions any man could start doing right away."

1. Support the business case for measurement of D&I

What’s the size of the program? How will you track progress? As Peter Drucker said, `what gets measured, gets managed.’ Don’t just go with perception.

“I’m afraid men’s perception of balance is not always matched up with reality. Men perceive its balance at 20 %, and if you get to one-third women, men felt outnumbered. So, don’t just go with perception.”

Carol noted that two-thirds of bachelor’s degrees are awarded to minorities, yet those segments are not showing up in energy. A new D&I index by Bloomberg is based on voluntary reporting. Guess who’s not reporting? "Energy," which she says is no surprise.

2. Take responsibility for Inclusive Behavior

“Be an inclusive manager. Most of my career I felt like I needed to be something other than me in order to fit in. So, I work hard to not have people I work with feel excluded. And I stopped trying to fit in (because I really couldn’t) and I focused on doing good work and being an inclusive manager.

Battershell challenged male managers to think about how they know they're an inclusive manager and what they should or should not do to demonstrate inclusion. Inclusive management is just good management. “No more dark suits, no more pretending I like golf. Teamwork is best if the manager gets to know each person and what management style works best for each individual.”

3. Managers need to build relationships with employees who are not just like them

Battershell encouraged everyone to examine their office and companies and consider who they can mentor, and to step outside the natural tendency to stick to those who are the same.

“Men can create opportunities to mix, mentor and give chances to work with people who are not just like them."

4. Stop inappropriate behavior at its nexus

Simply put, white men need to hold other white men accountable. “It can happen more easily if you speak up." Carol cited several examples in her career where a man spoke up and stopped the nexus of inappropriate behavior cold.

“Diversity training programs weren’t going to get that done,” she concluded. "I think men don’t realize how much `See something, say something’ helps.”

Pink Petro can help

Battershell is working with Pink Petro to compile a database of great resources for women in energy - all forms of energy. Individuals and companies can join Pink Petro and gain access to valuable resources to support diversity and inclusion.

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