Over the past eight months, the Utility Week editorial team have been recording the split of male and female interviewees and contributors across our platforms.
Today we are revealing the progress we have made in achieving a fair representation as part of the BBC’s 50:50 Equality Project. As the name suggests, this initiative aims for a gender balance in reporting or in any content produced. We are among the 143 organisations signed up the project to submit this data for the BBC’s Challenge Month. Ofgem and Energy UK are also representing the utilities sector in this project.
When we first started recording the data in August 2021, 69% of the people quoted in our articles were male. In March 2022 this figure had fallen to 64%.
I am, of course, pleased to see the numbers are going in the right direction but I’m not sure I can celebrate the fact that there remains a clear gender imbalance in our coverage. The gains we have made in female representation are a result of actively promoting female voices and seeking out diverse views. We will continue to do this but we also need the industry’s help.
Utilities have spoken warm words about the need to address diversity and inclusion yet the figures highlight the scale of the challenge. The latest statistics from Energy & Utilities Skills actually showed a fall in the female percentage of the workforce, down to 18.3% – compared to a UK-wide tally of 47.3%. This has to change and I want Utility Week to play an important role in holding up a mirror to the sector – celebrating successes and scrutinising progress.
It remains the case that the vast majority of senior figures at utilities are male and while there is a clear appetite to promote diverse voices, the spokespeople put forward by companies when we approach them are overwhelmingly male.
Our commitment to driving forward diversity will not stop with this one announcement and I am determined to see that divide in our coverage narrow. I am asking for your help to do this. We would like to build a database of experts throughout the utilities sector who are willing to be quoted on variety of topics, representing a true cross-section of society.
At the moment, we are not recording statistics more widely on the diversity of our coverage but definitely intend to gauge how we are representing a rang of ethnicities and disabilities and would like to reflect this in our database.
Please contact me if you would like to put forward a range of speakers from your organisation or if you feel you have a story to tell on promoting diversity.
This topic will be explored in depth in our webinar Diversity: What’s stopping us?, which takes place this Friday (29th April). You can sign up for free here.