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Sat, 25 Jan 2020 23:43 GMT

ADIPEC 2019: CEOs Agree - Diversity is Good for Business


Gary Potgieter

Tue, 12 Nov 2019 10:46 GMT

A panel discussion revealed that diversity carries with it inherent business benefits as it expands the available talent pool.

As the Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition (ADIPEC) enters its second day, panel discussions are tackling some of the most pressing concerns facing the oil and gas industry.

One such discussion examined diversity within the workplace and how best to harness the potential that comes from increasing the talent pool available to companies.

This is also one of the areas where the Fourth Industrial Revolution is demanding change within companies – there is now a strong desire from young employees to see active change within the workplace. Industry 4.0 as it is being called, demands change and transformation, two topics that came under intense discussion during the panel session.

The session, titled ‘Harnessing the potential of an inclusive, diverse and engaged workforce to transform organisational agendas’, featured four speakers, three of whom are women CEOs. The fact that the panel was 75% women already reflected how the oil and gas sectors are embracing Industry 4.0 and changing the landscape of what was once a male-dominated industry.

Tayba Al Hashemi, the CEO of Al Yasat, began the session by reflecting on how the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) is preparing for its future through providing opportunities for the youth. Al Hashemi, who is one of only two women CEOs in ADNOC, revealed that some 15% of ADNOC’s leadership is women, reflecting a growing trend within the company to expand its talent pool.

“We have a golden opportunity for youth,” she said in regards to how the company is driving opportunities for young people.

“This generation is the future of the industry.”

Adding to her point about ADNOC’s dedication to diversity was the news that ADNOC was the winner of the category Diversity and Inclusion at the 2019 ADIPEC Awards on Monday, November 12th.

Proscovia Nabbanja, the CEO of the Uganda National Oil Company (UNOC) discussed some business reasons that support a drive towards great inclusivity and diversity within the workplace.

“Diversity should be looked at as a business case in an industry that is evolving at such a dynamic rate. If the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside of a company, then you need to innovate,” she said.

“And how do you drive innovation? You need to embrace diversity because people come with different talents, different ideas and the more diverse [the workforce] the better.”

Christina Verchere, the CEO and President of the Executive Board of OMV Petrom from Romania, identified that only 15% of men apply for parental leave. This, she suggested, is one of the challenges facing transformation within the workplace as women are still often seen as being the primary caretaker of the family.

Another challenge facing workplace diversity was pointed out by Nabbanja, who said it was especially difficult for women to enter male-dominated workspaces when candidates were faced with an all-male panel.

Andrew Smart, the Senior Managing Director at Accenture, said diversity training is the start of a personal journey and that, for him, he learnt to bring more of himself into the workplace, as opposed to having a ‘professional’ and a ‘personal’ persona.

Ultimately, every single panellist agreed that diversity is good for business, as it widens the talent pool available to companies. And, with the changing global oil and gas industry, this is vital if companies are to secure their profitability moving into the future.

Of course, this also adds pressure onto employers who now have to compete for young talent like never before. This is additionally difficult for the oil and gas industry as they must compete with employers like Google and Amazon. This means oil and gas employers need to restructure the way they approach young employees in a bid to secure fresh talent.

One key area about so-called millennials seeking work is that they tend to seek employers who are societally good, or who do good for society. This has forced many employers to consider what purpose, or added value, the company brings to society, and to a country at large, in their bid to secure young talent.

With regards to those young people seeking a career in the oil and gas sectors, Al Hashemi said it is important for the youth to identify a goal.

“Young people should have a clear goal, a plan to reach it and should be flexible with achieving their target,” she said.

Middle East