Being LGBT+ in the energy sector

Chris Unsworth

Chris Unsworth

Senior Manager - Wholesale Markets
20th February 2020
Areas covered:

In January, Stonewall published its latest list of top 100 employers for people in the LGBT+ community. This list recognises the excellent work of the organisations that are arguably doing the most to create a supportive and welcoming work environment for their LGBT+ staff. The publishing of this list is cause for celebration amongst the industries that find a number of their companies within this list. Many LGBT+ people use the Stonewall list as a shortlisting tool, allowing them to navigate the world of career progression in the knowledge that they are focussing efforts on companies where they can belong.

Unfortunately, no organisations whose primary business falls within the energy industry can be found in the top 100. This could be a signal to show that the energy industry is not optimising the benefit from the creativity and resilience of those within the LGBT+ community - qualities that are often vital when creating and implementing solutions to tackle the climate crisis.

What can Ofgem do?

At Ofgem, we can use staff survey data to be more specific about the problems we face in attracting talent across the spectrum of sexual orientation, gender expression and identity. The main problem highlighted in staff results is that the proportion of staff declaring themselves to be LGBT+ is significantly lower than the average amongst the rest of the Civil Service. There is clearly a need for Ofgem to be proactive in creating its own signal to the LGBT+ community showing that as an organisation we are making steps to being a welcoming place to work.

Power in Pride

This is why the Ofgem LGBT+ Network created the Power in Pride Promise - a proactive and public list of commitments to demonstrate that we will be taking specific actions to create the right environment for LGBT+ people in the workplace. The promise also shows Ofgem’s intent in opening the conversation with other organisations who currently do well at attracting and retaining LGBT+ talent. The promise was created by asking members of the Ofgem LGBT+ Network to give their views on what areas staff need reassurance in order to feel included and welcome when at work. The document was officially launched at Ofgem's Power in Pride event which saw an exciting panel of internal and external speakers discussing subjects of LGBT+ diversity and inclusion in the energy industry. We are hoping that this is a good start to inspire more of these discussions within Ofgem and the energy community as a whole.

Why I’m out at work

My own personal experience of being LGBT+ has demonstrated to me that there is significant power in being out as an openly proud gay man. Others have told me that my proactive nature in volunteering this information with confidence has been a significant contributor to them coming out both in and out of working environments. These people have also said that being out means that they felt more able to benefit from effective support that can be found in organisations. I personally have been so grateful for the support that I have been given by others in Ofgem, both in creating the Power in Pride Promise and organising the associated launch event. My hope is that we can now extend that support to all who need it.