Tisha’s Insights

Winning Over Women: The Winning Secret to Real Decarbonization ®


I’m always hesitant to write about women in the workforce. After all, if you are writing about women, you are emphasizing their difference. I would like to think that we are done with needing to explain the importance of women and what’s required to maximize their contribution. But we aren’t, and oil and gas leaders have a huge opportunity to join me in the important work of inspiring, mobilizing, and retaining our workforce. What’s good for women is good for the entire workforce—and the workforce is the secret to winning at Real Decarbonization ®.

You’ve surely seen headlines discussing the disappearance of women leaders from the workplace. The reality may be worse than the headlines: The rate of attrition is unprecedented—for every woman who attains the director level, two women directors leave.

It’s not new news that our industry has historically struggled to attract, retain, and promote women and has one of the lowest ratios of working women to men. What is new is our understanding of why this matters. As I interviewed CEOs for my latest book, Real Decarbonization ®it became abundantly clear that a company’s workforce can sink or float its Real Decarbonization ® strategy. The uptake and success of any strategy is entirely dependent on the participation of the company’s employee base, and the difference between a great company and a mediocre company is the passion and energy of people in the organization. That includes women.

Both of these things are true:

  • Women in the industry are leaving leadership roles at unprecedented rates.
  • Women leaders are your leaders and therefore key to the success of your Real Decarbonization ® strategy.

The situation

This challenge across industry represents an opportunity for forward-thinking oil and gas leaders to maximize the contribution and engagement of all your employees. If good ideas get less attention because of the gender of the person sharing it, your company is losing out on insights. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Women are not equally represented in leadership. Workplaces with disproportionately high ratios of men to women tend to show higher rates of discrimination, and women tend to avoid working for these companies, raising the bar for attracting qualified talent. Among similar industries, oil and gas has one of the lowest rates of women in both entry-level and C-suite roles—exacerbating this phenomenon.
  • There are structural patterns at play. These patterns include low rates of women pursuing traditional oil and gas degrees. Rectifying this disparity requires building pipelines to trade schools and universities for talented high school girls to build the pool of talent early.
  • Bias is real, even if unconscious. In a 2015 study, the Harvard Business School analyzed the popularity of a series of investment recommendations made by both men and women. Using assumptions around typical female and male names, the researchers were able to analyze the popularity—the frequency of clicks—on supposedly male- and female-authored investment recommendations. They found, even when controlling for performance, that purported female posts received significantly less attention than purported male posts. Mary and Matthew may both be bullish on oil prices, but, when Mary says it, 25 percent of the audience isn’t listening.
  • Women leaders value company culture. It’s increasingly important to women leaders that they work for companies that prioritize flexibility and employee well-being. In a post-pandemic society, this has become increasingly meaningful to women leaders. Women who can choose to work in arrangements they prefer—whether remote or on site—are less burned out, happier in their jobs, and much less likely to consider leaving their companies.

For years we have been learning that companies with greater gender diversity on executive teams are more likely to outperform competitors in terms of profitability and innovation—two elements key to Real Decarbonization ®. Our industry has some standouts in this space! Seven years ago, Vicki Hollub, CEO of Occidental, became the first woman to run a major oil and gas company. Today, she is one of the Fortune 500s longest-tenured female CEOs. (And OXY shares are up 500 percent since November 2020—just saying.) bp has a majority-women executive team, leading the charge in gender ambition for an oil and gas company.

Seize the day

Unlike many hard problems, this one has a straightforward solution: As a leader in the industry, you have a daily, even hourly, opportunity to engage and nurture all leaders, consciously overcoming gender gaps.

  • Build more pipelines for women candidates. Ensure your company is working with high schools, trade schools, and universities to attract women into relevant programs. Expect your team to actively recruit a diverse set of candidates and put policies in place to evaluate them objectively.
  • Foster contributions by all employees. Start by calling on staff in meetings, to make sure everyone contributes. Before engaging in decision-making processes, ask yourself if you can increase access to leadership through more inclusion. Gather regular feedback from all employees to mindfully ensure the decisions you are making incorporate multiple perspectives.
  • Promote flexible work styles. Women leaders continue to juggle more home responsibilities with their work priorities than men. Be purposeful about your company’s requirements for in-person work. Provide clear guidelines to help your employees navigate day-to-day complexities—for example, by establishing specific windows during which meetings can be scheduled and employees in different time zones are expected to be available.
  • Make a personal commitment. At Adamantine, we believe in the power of mentorship. We encourage our industry-leading clients to take on promising employees as mentees. It is up to all leaders to ensure that every employee has a mentor, and we encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and reach out to a promising but possibly overlooked candidate.

Real Decarbonization ® requires the best from all our employees, both men and women! You have the opportunity to ensure our workplaces are a great place to build a career. Unsure on how to engage your workforce in building your 10-year Real Decarbonization ® strategy? Reach out today for a consultation.

Special thanks to Katie Bays and Savannah Bush of Team Adamantine for their help in writing this piece. If this piece was shared with you, please take a moment and subscribe here.

To winning,



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Both of These Things Are True

By Tisha Schuller