That's the question EY asked in its 2014 report entitled
"Talent at the table: index of women in power and
utilities" (the "Gender Index
Report"). The Gender Index Report looked at the top
100 global utilities, based on revenue, and created a baseline for
gender diversity across their boards of directors. It found that,
within the power and utilities sector
("P&U"), only 4% of executive board
members, 18% of non-executive directors, 15% of board members and
12% of senior management teams of these top utilities were
Given the research that has demonstrated a direct correlation
between gender diversity on boards and positive financial
performance, the Gender Index Report concluded that the need for
board diversity from a gender perspective was critical to the
growth, innovation and success of the P&U sector.2
At the end of the day, "[a]t heart, the question of gender
diversity on boards is not a women's issue; it's a business
issue."3 This is especially true, the Gender Index
Report argues, since the sector is in a state of massive flux, and
"[h]ow energy is produced, who generates it, and how it is
bought, sold and distributed is all changing – and all at the
same time".4EY's 2015 update5 to the Gender
Index Report shows that we have not only failed to increase the
number of women on boards in the P&U sector, we've actually
taken a step backward.6 Though there were marginal
increases in some categories7, women's overall
representation has decreased. Interestingly, the 2015 report
featured a "top 20" list for gender diversity that
included three Canadian entities: BC Hydro (number 9), Hydro One
Inc. (number 13), and Hydro-Quebec (number 13, down from number 10
last year).8 Despite having the strongest regional
showing on EY's "top 20" list, North American
utilities still reflect a small number of women being represented
at the top levels of the industry and little hope for any
substantial increase without proactive and focused action.
Though most professionals in the Ontario industry might have
correctly guessed at the statistics the EY reports make so
abundantly clear, they probably don't have as fast an answer
for EY's question above: "If your daughter asked you how
to succeed in this industry, what would you say to her?".
As energy lawyers in this sector, we certainly don't have a
good answer to that question. As female professionals in the energy
sector, we know that it's an important question to be
In that spirit, over the next few weeks we will be blogging
about our discussions with some leading women in the sector in
Ontario to get their take on the status quo. We are interested in
learning more about their current work within the ever-changing
landscape of the energy industry in Ontario, and what challenges
and potential victories they see looming on the road ahead.
In addition, given the EY reports, we also want to understand
what their path to success has looked like. For that matter,
we'd be interested to hear how they define the term
"success" within the industry, without presupposing that
it is means the same thing to each of them. Along the way,
we'll keep asking EY's question, and hoping that the
daughters, nieces, friends and other girls in our lives don't
ask it before we have a better answer.
1. The Gender Index Report, p. 18.
2. See "More women at the table: the case for
change" section of the Gender Index Report, p.
3. The Gender Index Report, p. 25.
4. The Gender Index Report, p. 6.
5. EY made changes to its methodology for its 2015
report, including expanding the review of the top 200 utilities
from 100, which changes were "introduced to provide broader
geographical representation, give larger subsidiaries their own
listings and reduce volatility from small changes to the
6. EY, Women in Power and Utilities Index 2015
(the "2015 Report"), p. 5.
7. The number of board executives rose from 4% in 2014 to
5% in 2015.
8. The 2015 Report, p. 4.
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